Pike

Kai Carlson-Wee

Somewhere in her heart she remembers
the sound of lake water hitting the boat.
The low back-and-forth of buoyed weight
working to hold up the bodies inside.
Her father removing a worm from the loose
earth, threading the wet pink flesh with
a hook. Dirt on his fingers. The long, bleeding
body in agony, curling to feel its way
up the nylon line. Even as the bed nurse
changes the bag, squeezes her arm for
a vein, she remembers the sun-dried cork
in her hands. Clear reverberations through
the bamboo pole as the worm swung over
the psychedelic water and the lure weight
started to fall. In the distance, a loon’s call.
Or was it a boy calling out to his friend
on the dock? The way he said, Carl. Hey,
Carl, come here. She remembers the sadness
of that name: Carl. Brothers, of course,
and in love in a way she would never be able
to guess. Ladybugs dead in the silk of a cobweb,
eagle wings rasping the air. She watches
the window to take in the autumn trees,
cherry leaves dotting the lawn. She can feel
the long gold trail behind them, dance of
the motor. Her father saying, Tease it now.
Bring it to life. She remembers this, yes,
she is sure she remembers. Moon rising over
invisible water. The pole bent double, and, yes,
she is sure: the force pulling harder below.

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Kai Carlson-Wee is the author of Rail, due out this year from BOA. His photography has been featured in Narrative and his award-winning poetry film, Riding the Highline, has been screened at film festivals across the country. A former Stegner Fellow, he lives in San Francisco and teaches poetry at Stanford University.

The Southern Review

Winter 2018

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Louisiana State University

Coeditor and Poetry Editor: Jessica Faust
Coeditor and Prose Editor: Emily Nemens

The Southern Review is one of the nation’s premiere literary journals. Hailed by Time as “superior to any other journal in the English language,” we have made literary history since our founding in 1935. We publish a diverse array of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry by the country’s—and the world’s—most respected contemporary writers.

The Southern Review … represents everything that is good in the world of literary publication. Their dedication to aesthetic quality has been the gold standard in literary publication for over seventy-five years.”
—James Lee Burke

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