The Catch

by C.J. Costello
The Poets' Graves
First Place, August 2010
Judged by Ruth Ellen Kocher


Please don’t stare: I am trying to remember the weight
of water on scales; a current that carries even when
other weights pull the vertebrate from its bed upstream,
downstream, a translucent stream caressing the honesty

of nakedness that can’t hold these failing fins as they glide
for eons through the onrush of air; they will not wither
but they will forget why they are here

this glassy eye, in its opaque mind, isn’t glaring
can’t you see – it’s trying to remember?


The poem here cascades into the power of its last line, a line that opens up the poem to the rest of the world. The expansion we feel here belies its subtle delivery. The poem wastes no language and begins its work in the very first clause of the very first line. The writer demonstrates an adept skill of ushering the reader through the poem, quietly, yet assuredly. The poem is a showcase for the crafted voice of this writer who knows most what a poet should keep, and what a poet should let go. I love most how the fish in the poem becomes the mysterious locus of convergence, the infinite nature of the Aleph in the sense of Borges, a single breath representing what we are, what we've been, and what we might hope to be. --Ruth Ellen Kocher

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