There were no more fish in the Gulf
so we went into the back bays
away from the oil rigs
into the green marsh veined
with bayous where alligators slept,
their old helmets scarred
from the props of boats.
We found a lagoon no man had ever seen
and shut off the motor.
The silence seemed indignant; the sun

Suddenly, I was afraid and wanted to leave,
but everyone else dived in.
The sleeping rays flew off,
and the crabs, claws up, backed into holes in the mud.
My friends threw beer cans into the brown water,
and stuffed a wadded cigarette package
down the throat of a catfish
before they let it go.

I could feel it choking
in my own throat,
so I turned and watched
the green sawgrass,
the brown roots of it
the tide uncovers when it goes out.

William Greenway
from his book Pressure Under Grace
Breitenbush Books, 1982

Used with permission of the poet.

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