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September Alone

- by Linn Barnes

September Alone

by Linn Barnes

The beach before any light early

Dark and loud the ocean a mystery

The late night early morning wind

Spiking you to the very core of you

You dig in your sand spike

Secure your rod in the tube

Unfold and dig in your chair 

Arrange your bait and board

Then you sit for a moment

Listening to the waves

Shuttling in the morning tide

About an hour to full flood

You bait a single hook

The sea is agitated but 

Not rough in the rising chilly wind

Three ounces of lead will suffice

Then you cast for the first time

Always the most promising

When everything is possible

Into the mysterious dark and beyond

Once the lead has reached bottom

You trim in some and check the 

Star drag firm but not too tight

As you stand waiting in the dark water

The waves washing over your waders

In the cool September sea

The tide flooding fast now

On a growing north east breeze

The dark begins to yield to a glow

A lightening shadow piercing the east

A long low line at the horizon

Emerging and picking up speed

This birthing of new light

Feeds your fertile imagination

Now synched to the generative force

All bringing the day into being

The light is sparking more wind

Cutting through your outer shell

The wind is pouring in the tide

Now crashing into your legs

The lead now freed from the bottom and 

In motion bouncing slowly to the south 

You keep the line tight and focused

Seeing only the now rising light


A fiery red saber on the horizon

Cleaving into the night 

Bringing the new light

On a collision course with the day

Then a nudge a tentative taste

A scent for something out there

Hungry in the rising light

Focused on the fresh cut flesh

Nothing for a long instant

Then a hit doubling the huge rod

You wait not daring to strike back

Until you do burying the hook deep

The strike staggers you back in the sand

You recover and dig in your boots

The fish is swimming through the drag

And you let him have his way

There is a lull and you reel 

Recovering some lost line

The fish swims for the deep

Fighting the punishing drag

The fish stops and then 

Turns north parallel to the shore

The line peeling out

As you tighten the star drag

This is a great new weight

Which the fish does not understand

He knows only this strange slowness

Where all he knew before was speed

You sense his coming weakness

And pull the rod high to recover line 

The fish turns toward the shore

For a moment free of the pressure

You now reel as fast as you must

To sustain the deadly symbiosis 

To ensure he cannot spit the hook

He is probably not even aware of

But the fish is no where near finished

He turns hard to the south with the current

Vectoring at maybe forty five degrees

Off the shore back toward the deep

Now you must turn him again

You tighten the drag punishing him

You reel in with all your strength

Your arms and legs on fire now

He turns again toward the shore

Then north parallel to where you stand

He is now closer to the crashing waves

And the fiery new light is rising

Then in the spray now clear in the wind

The fish leaps into the salted air

Twisting and shaking his perfect body

And crashing back into the spray and the waves

You use his leap to recover more line

Now with the rising sun burning into your face 

You manage to muscle him past the breakers

And into the shallow water in front of you

He is a beautiful large striped bass

Maybe fifteen pounds maybe less

With the rod in your right hand

You dive for the huge fish

You first grab him by the tail

But it is too slippery for any purchase

You spin his head toward you with the line

And stab into his gills with your left hand

The fish is still fighting madly

As you drag him to shore

Knowing you could easily lose 

Him with the merest hesitation

But you do not lose him

You administer the coup de grace 

With the priest hanging from your right side

And you collapse spent to your knees

Into the wet sand and shallow surf

The waves booming with the rising wind

The  sea spray mercifully anointing you

At this fiery dawning of another day