8. fort kochi

It is getting late,
but Auntie wants to show us the fort, so we drive
into lilac-colored sky to watch the day
disappear into the Arabian Sea.

The Chinese fishing nets droop like powerlines,
pulled by men with tanned, taut backs
and half-teeth smiles. They invite us
to the end of the dock, rickety
sheaves of plywood creaking
over water, no safety to catch us,
just trust that we will not fall into the water below.

They show us how they work,
hauling in the lines,
ropes burning our palms as we work alongside them,
singing “Hey Jallah!” in echo.
Stacks of fat fish piled high, silver and slippery
thick flesh shining.
I wonder what they do with the fish
at the end of the day—the ones no one buys,
the ones they don’t take to their families.

Do they gather and scale them all
regardless, in gossamer sheaths that fall to the ground,
gorging themselves on their temporary riches;
or let them sit gone to waste,
like days?


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