765: a fishing story.

765: a fishing story.

765: a fishing story.


I’m Ada Limón and this is The Slowdown.

There’s something that I keep close to my chest. It’s the part of me I am least proud of and yet I know very well it exists and is sometimes lurking under the surface, ever-present in my day-to-day life. It is my temper. My rage. My anger. I can be rageful, fly off the handle, and even at times scream and cry at the perceived injustices all around me.

There are times when I feel it in me and yet I cannot pinpoint the reason, the evil-doer, the subject or object of my anger. I only know that I feel it and it’s real, and in that white hot moment of rage, I can be ready to burn it all down. I know no rational mind, or deep breathing exercises will work. My meditation techniques have flown out every window, scattered like scared little birds in the face of a mean chaotic bear on the loose in my rib cage.

No one knows my anger more than those closest to me. My sweet husband, who is as patient and as empathetic as they come, always seems to manage to see something from all its angles, to see the best in people, to advocate for humanity; he knows my rage. I wish he didn’t, but he does. And when it happens. (Do you notice the passive voice there? When rage “happens to me”), it feels as if I am overtaken by some mad animal and I want to take down everyone around me.

Throughout the years, it’s gotten better. I can see it coming. I can breathe through it, I can isolate myself or nap or write or scream and then shake it off. When I was a kid it was much worse. I was always surprised I didn’t light all my clothes on fire in some momentary mind-melting rage episode. But somehow, even then I was able to return to myself eventually. My parents slowly closing the door for me to cry myself to sleep. And now my husband just looking at me, waiting until I say, “I’m so sorry, I don't know what came over me, but I was so angry.” And he nods and forgives me and sometimes I’m a little justified in my tantrum and sometimes I’m not. Either way, he soothes me back to myself and I am grateful every day for his care and his kindness.

Today’s poem is about imagining oneself as the wild and untamed thing, and how someone else might hold you up to the light.

a fishing story.
by Mia S. Willis

in this one, i am a sheepshead;
a freak of nature and hard to hold onto.

in this one, you cut open my stomach.
gasp when you find blood instead of sand.

according to the legend, i carry the ground in me,
so it makes sense that i want to go back.

in this one, my skin is just a shawl of scales.
just a raincoat.
just something to keep the salts separate.

in this one, you push your fingertips past my teeth.
i bite down.
my empathy atrophies.
you curse the day you caught me.

in this one, we are not careful what we fish for.
the sea is not a wetter sky.

in this one, i am the deadliest catch.

"a fishing story.'" by Mia S. Willis. Used by permission of the poet.