Joyce Schmid


Oyster Point Pier

South San Francisco, California

The fish’s inside-mouth is soft
and moist, a baby’s mouth,
pinched open, so the boy
can get his hook.
He holds the fish and smiles,
then tosses it away
and tries again. This time
he struggles, almost breaks the pole,
but brings the fighter in,
some kind of ray
that lies there on the dock
and now and then
smacks down its fins as if to fly,
as if the wood could soften into water
for its batting wings.
Somewhere to the north,
a whale is nuzzling
her new-born, new-dead calf,
and holding it afloat.
Six other whales will circle her
throughout the coming night
to comfort her,
acquainted as they are
with grief.

JOYCE SCHMID’s recent work has appeared in previous issues of Twyckenham Notes, as well as in Literary Imagination, New Ohio Review, Antioch Review, Missouri Review, Poetry Daily and other journals and anthologies. She lives in Palo Alto, California, with her husband of over half a century.