i.m. Les Powici
Britten’s Pond, a July dusk
mayflies hazing the flat, brown water
as the day’s last rooks flowed into the trees
and you threw crusts of Mother’s Pride
out among the reeds where, you reckoned,
the big carp swam like slow, fat kings.
A moth-rich summer darkness came –
some mist, grass and bracken scents,
train echoes from the bridge across Salt Box Road
but all that cool, unlucky night
our hooks hung weightless, free.
I can’t remember if we blamed the weather or the bait
or if we said much at all
but I can see you, Les, settled into the shadow
of that ridiculously big angler’s umbrella
a mug of thermos tea cradled on your lap
while you drew calmly on a Players Number 6
as if you’d always known
it wasn’t about the strike, the catch
and isn’t now
talking about you, in your garden
in the April sunlight
these forty slow years later.
These other worlds.
About this poem
This poem was included in Best Scottish Poems 2014. Best Scottish Poems is an online publication, consisting of 20 poems chosen by a different editor each year, with comments by the editor and poets. It provides a personal overview of a year of Scottish poetry. The editor in 2014 was Roderick Watson.
‘Night Fishing’ came about after the death of my brother Les from cancer in 2012. I wrote about that long-ago fishing trip not because we caught anything but because the simple pleasure of sitting together by a quiet lake in the summer darkness welled up so strongly in the imagination. Also the poem was my way of ‘fishing’ for Les or, at least, the memory of him. The poem took a little while to write. Les was good with his hands and liked to mend, and make, watches and pens. I wanted my poem to echo his own love of craft.