The Big Fish Story

Late fall and not a soul around for miles.
Just me and my man. And those scallopers
trolling a few hundred feet off shore I'm pointing to,
saying No, Non, Nein, Nyet, Nej,
in every language, including Body English,
in response to his idea that we take off
all our clothes smack in the middle of the lawn
in broad daylight and go swimming!
This is the line he throws me: "But, sweetheart,
the young have given up scalloping.
Those are all old men out there.
Their eyesight is terrible.” Which explains why
I'm naked in the water off the coast
of Massachusetts on the 14th of October
and loving it, the water still summer warm
feeling like silk, like the feel of his flesh
drawing over my skin when we're landed
on a bed, so I swim off out of his reach
lolling and rolling, diving and surfacing,
floating on my back for his still good eyes.
I know what he has in mind and what
I have in mind is to play him for awhile
for that line I swallowed, delay the moment
I'll do a slow crawl over to him,
wrap my legs around his waist, and
reel him in—just the fish he was after.

© Mary Stewart Hammond, originally published in The New Yorker, 2006.
All rights reserved.