The Catch by Judith Pulman

When you were ten you caught a fish

and showed your parents that pink flesh.

They whooped loud, mercury eyes! Silver guts!

That day all guzzled more than enough.

and that night, you grasped a new way to sit

that made the family round and perfect.

All your thoughts from that day on

were mother, cod, father, sturgeon.


You live alone now and don’t eat meat,

you captain a dingy, so that you can greet

the others and judge their hefty catch.

A family can’t feed off one single perch.

There needs to be a freezer full of carcasses

or else no more breath, no more kisses.

Now take those hooks from your tender flesh, see:

You can’t save what you do not release.

Judith Pulman
 streamimage Judith Pulman has had poems published in Ezra Journal, VoiceCatcher Magazine, and Night Bomb Press. She completed her MFA through the Rainier Writers Workshop in 2012. In addition to poems, she writes short stories and translates Russian Poetry. You can view her other work and projects at