Prana Mandoe


The Net

 

I. The Net

the net drops out of darkness

a waterfall a cascade of stars

shimmies

over our black tube

slides into the black sea

as my boy and I

cross the cold-mouthed river

 

stroking back over the net

watery shore-lights

glint on a fish

in the murk between worlds

I dive for it,

grasp its body, grip its gills

hang onto thrashing, kicking food

 

below the surface

I struggle with the fish in hand

tugging suji out from scales,

over fins, but

breathless, I drop the net

swim up toward sky

left breath, stroke, stroke

 

Maui’s fish-hook sparkles to the south

right breath, stroke, stroke

the Big Dipper swings around the pole

fish-hook, shoulder, stroke,

dipper, backbone, stroke

glitter, neck-turn, twist

sparkle, darkness, this

 

o cosmic ocean you

shimmer,

glimmer,

stroke,

feed us common folk

who evade

the game warden

 

II. The Warden

 

we see him

in his boots

with his gun

one booming morning

when the sharks eat seal

and we hope to catch

inside on the ebb tide

I got a call

anybody seen anybody

laying net

I am truthful

though he may

teach me to lie

our net does not

announce its presence

with surface floaters

which he discloses

are legally required

the boys and I

pick up the net

fishless

put it down here

he puts it in his truck

and gives my husband

a yellow carbon

citation

 

III. The Crux

 

and here is the crux

of the matter

 

who oversaw the destruction

of a land renamed fee simple

 

the lifestyle of fishermen,

the women picking limu

 

their grounds are a vortex now

of marine bases and traffic snarl

 

invasive seaweeds

choke the broken walls

 

the homes fill with wrecked cars

crushed cans and extension cords

 

the families who

enforced their own limits,

 

dependent on the catch

broiled at the beach,

 

sucked raw in the boat,

hung dry from the rafters

 

are on their way to dialysis while

conservation enforcement

 

cites

the survivors


Prana Joy Mandoe speaks English, Danish, and Hawaiian; she kneads the cultures together in her writing and home life. She teaches eighth grade U.S. History by day, then writes poetry when her family sleeps. Her work has recently appeared in Hawaiʻi Pacific Review, Buddhist Poetry Review, and Bamboo Ridge Journal.