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Bass Waves

Today's poem is Bass Waves by Mira Coleman. It is read by Samaa Abdurraqib.

Bass Waves

My father taught me to cast
a fishing line,
unhook a silver scup,
keep a good lure
and make it last
out there in the harbor,
at the edge of a dock.

He'd say waves out by Eustis Rock
at sunset meant the bass were in:
"bass waves" he'd say, mirth in his eye,
handing me the spyglass
as if it would seal my faith.

I was thirty before I learned
there was no such thing,
just old wakes
from boats gone by.

In August, the pogies came,
chased in by the bigger blues,
sudden fish in the channel.

He'd chew the soft side of his cheek,
determined and patient
as he took a rod out to the dock
and cast that clear rubber minnow
again and again.

Later, he'd play the uke and spoons
and sing a low harmony
when my brother came
and no one really knew
how hard my mother worked
to ration his whiskey down
in that big shingle-house
on a grassy bluff
lit like a ship
on a late summer night,
full like a vault of memory:

Of fish, in a sautee, and glads in a jug,
of cribbage and cards and very good gin
in the usual din of guests
from all over the world.

No one knew how hard he tried
at the edge of a world
where the bass waves came in
just wetting the red-legged dock.