by Bonnie Tardella –  1977

Sky black, dawn waiting behind night’s curtain
Striped bass will soon be foraging for food
Poking for prey among craggy rocks
Cruising through softly-swaying sea grass.
A moving tableau in the bountiful Sound.

 Racing to beat the arrival of sunrise
The angler, in anticipation, makes haste.
The tidal magnet draws him toward the water
For yet-another briny treasure hunt.
Life’s affirmation within the beckoning Sound!

The silent marina is dark and deserted.
Adrenalin-filled, the fisherman sprints
Down the rickety, splintered ramp
And jumps aboard his waiting boat;
His cannot-live-life-without boat.

Oh, the sweet low rumble of engine’s rev;
Go now!  The mooring line is deftly loosed.
He pushes off, and is set free.
Free for a few stolen hours of passion
Alone–just he and his fiberglass mistress

Chug-chugging along in too-slow motion now
Hobbled by Make-No-Wake channel markers.
As he anxiously passes green barrels and red
He weighs his strategies for the morning’s hunt:
Which spots, which lures, which techniques du jour.

Restrictive buoys now behind, no longer hemmed in
He opens her up and flies to where they’re feeding.
The man needs no birds to point the way
He goes with his gut and a sixth sense
To find the stripers. Heart-stopping stripers!      

Look!  Straight ahead…a huge swirl!
Quickly open the bail…and cast.
The fish takes the lure…and is running!
Now hit him hard and set that hook!
Keep his head up, line taut, and reel him in.

Tug-of-war is over; man vanquishes fish.
Get the net and scoop him over the side.
Divest him of all hostile metal, and raise him up.
Lift him gently from the alien, unyielding deck.
Exult in the marvel of his silver-and-ebon cloak.

A work-of-art fish is the noble striped bass.
God, the painter, creates wondrous watercolors.

Now release the prize–with a helpful downward boost!
The fish is free; his captor is free.  A gift exchanged.
Resurrection for the fish; salvation for the man.

Time to go home. There’s no need of a clock
To announce the hour of the rising sun.
The Sound explodes with breathtaking hues–
As water mirrors the reds and gold from above;
A cruel time to have to take one’s leave.

 But there’s always tomorrow.
Tomorrow–promising another heady dose
Of nature’s antidote for a world gone mad.

So, fisherman, satisfy your need.  Make the time.
Feel and smell and listen to the moving water.
Serenity, solitude, and sequin-scaled striped bass.
Refreshment of the soul, reanimation of the spirit.

Long Island Sound: much better than an analyst’s couch.








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