Fishing Off Pelican, Alaska

His hands like oyster shells, ridged and gnarled
over knuckle and tendon. The fleshy upper palm
a salt-crusted callus, the lower palm
smoothed beyond recognition from the regular
slide of long lines and nylon tackle.
Icicles cling to the last edges of his moustache,
afraid to let go, his warm breath melts them.
Fingers curve through the pulsing gill of
a 110-pound King salmon. The fish looks uncomfortable,
healthy red belly fins slowly freezing
to brown. One numb attempt to raise its tail,
then gills flutter to a close
wet and quiet against him.

Rose Marie Berger is associate editor of Sojourners.

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