Adam and Cain Go on a Fishing Trip
The ribs of rabbits should have seemed obvious fishhooks to Dad
whose wife was dragged up by God like a salmon,
barbed by a bone from his side, suffocating on existence
until she learned to breathe. But it took years
of trials with wood and stone, filling the lips of fish with jewelry,
before Dad learned the first thing God taught him.
When he got it right, we walked to the lake where he taught me
how to angle, as if he’d known for years.
My first attempt caught in some reeds, my second on a bush,
but my third cast found a whopping cutthroat trout.
When my rod bowed, Dad put his hands over mine. Together
we leaned back, hauling the bastard to shore.
Drawn from the water to flap on the ground, the trout moved
like mud set to boil in a pan. Frightened, I bent
to throw it back, but Dad slapped the fish with a branch, cracking
its eye and breaking its jaw which nibbled the air
crookedly. I dropped the rod and Dad kept hitting the fish, the branch
whistling in the air and whacking wet scales.
That night, I ate berries and roots while Dad ate bruised fish.
The only sounds were our chewing and the fire.
“You know, Cain,” he said, picking meat from his teeth with a bone,
“Sometimes it’s okay to kill.” I ate plants and said nothing.
Joe Roberts was born along the Wasatch Mountains and has spent most of his life growing beside them. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Writing Studies from Utah Valley University in 2016 and his poetry has been featured on the Rocky Mountain Revival Podcast. Joe works as a copywriter and lives in Salt Lake City.