Monica E. Smith

Monica E. Smith

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Fish Story

The First Fish

          The first fish was the only fish
I ever caught. That morning it rained a soft, warm,
misty rain and I thought our trip would be ruined,
but Lester said it was perfect, that the rain would
bounce on the lake and distort what the fish see,
bringing them to the surface to eat bugs and bait
that had washed into the water. My day brightened.
And it was beautiful.
          So Lester, Sean, Scott and I set out
for a small lake near the Ohio-Indiana boarder
to catch some fish. We waited and re-baited, waited
and re-baited and I was beginning to think I was right
about the rain. But after a while, I felt a quick, strong tug
on my pole and I felt like Hemingway's Santiago must have
felt after finally catching his big fish. My fish was blue and
green and silver and all of six inches in length.
And it was beautiful.
          I asked if I could eat it and Lester said I should.
Since it was late and I was the only one to catch a fish,
we headed home. Lester cut open the fish
and gutted and filleted it and presented it to me.
And it was beautiful.
          I salted and peppered and dredged it in flour,
placing it carefully in a hot pan with melted butter.
It sizzled and crackled and the hot butter popped
and splattered, and the nutty, savory aroma made
my mouth water, and the fish was no longer blue and
green and silver, but crusty and golden brown.
And it was beautiful.
          I gingerly placed the little fish on a platter befitting
any trophy fish and ate every buttery morsel myself
with the satisfaction and delight of one who had
never before eaten. Sean said, "That's your fish, Monica!"
and Scott congratulated me and Lester smiled
a big smile that tinted his entire face red,
laughing as though he had caught the fish himself.
And it was beautiful.

(inspired by Mary Oliver's "The Fish", and the first fish I ever caught)