Cod Fishing, Firth of Clyde
We crawl beyond the shipyards, past the Cumbraes, beyond the map’s pale blue to reach a darker zone. I’m twelve,
we’re on a trawler – Dad, ten men and me. Last week’s accusation – too old to play with dolls – still stings like salt-spray as I follow their lead,
casting baited line and tomboy bluster over the edge. Ten minutes and my line jerks taut – I drag and reel till silver breaks the surface,
lands thrashing on the deck. Slam its head! I grab it, drop it, grab it, heft it to a bench,
a gleaming muscle twice my forearm struggling against my own, and smash it harder than I’ve hit anything before.
I’d forgotten it till now: the mighty head slowing with each blow, the weight relaxing in my hands, that wide half-bloody eye
staring out beyond the lifebuoys, as a round of broad hands slapped my back like I slapped that body down.