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The Fisherman Talks Tides by Ann Chinnis

After “Skeet” Reese-Greatest Bass Fisher of all Time

I learned to fish from

my father, who had polio.

He’d sit to cast ‘cause he couldn’t stand,

flick his left hand out the window

of a fast-movin’ Buick, right wrist on the wheel

and snag a full bellied bass,

one county over.

When I sit on the Withlacoochee River banks

before the sun burns off the night

all I need are my lures and the tide.

Strung out in the grass they look dead,

but when I skim them across the moss,

the yellow-tail jigs and the red-topped twirler bounces

and I can catch anything:

a memory floating,

a glint,

a ripple widening in the wind.

You may not believe this:

When my father crossed the international date line,

on the USS Little Rock,

right before polio caught him,

he trolled ‘round Cape Horn.

And all the fish turned back their clocks,

all the dorado, all the tarpon,

‘cause they knew their days were numbered.

The ensigns wrote home: We are headed to

Rio, gorging on Mahi. They dated

their post-cards tomorrow.

And the fish swam in reverse

back to their past.

That’s why I sit

while the tides runs.


Ann Chinnis was born and raised in Virginia. She has been an Emergency Physician for 40 years, as well as a Department Chair at West Virginia University and a healthcare leadership coach. As an academic, her scholarship in Emergency Medicine has been published in the fields of educational innovation, change strategies in clinical care, and finance. Ann has been a poetry student at the Writers Studio in New York since January 2017. She currently lives in Virginia Beach. Her poetry has been published in The Speckled Trout Review and is forthcoming in Drunk Monkeys.

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