Nightcrawlers

night_crawlers_picture_7b

A good, soaking rain,
that made the grass and ground
spongy underfoot
signaled
nightcrawlers.

bucket of dirt
flashlight
spotter
grabber

They emerged from their
subterranean tunnels
washed out by the deluge
looking for worm love.

We found them there,
sometimes alone,
sometimes joined in mating.

They were deceptively quick
and always slippery.
The mating ones
were easier to catch
as they couldn’t break away
and slip back down their holes
nearly as quickly.

A quick grab and hard tug
and toss them in the bucket,
just enough to support
a good Saturday morning of
fishing on
Oxbow Lake.

It was dad’s favorite spot,
close, quiet, secluded, never crowded.
We fished from shore,
casting our lines
weighted with leaders
and lead shot or sinkers,
with bobbers set to allow
the hook to sink
three or four feet,
shallow, where the sunfish lounged.

Only whispering was allowed
so as not to scare away the fish
(I think dad just liked the quiet).

And, oh, how the green sunfish and blue gill
loved those juicy worms—
just couldn’t resist them
wiggling there on the hook.
They would nibble
making the red and white bobber bounce
on the glassy lake surface.

Had to be quick
because as soon at the bobber
sank beneath the water
it was time for a quick whip
of the pole to set the hook
and then reel in the catch.

Scoop them up with the net,
size them up
grab them just right
to lay down the spiny dorsal fin
and take out the hook,
release the smaller ones
hang the larger ones
on the stringer
in the water.

Had to be patient
as some days bites
were few and far between.
I learned to sit still
watch the bobber
and wait,
no multitasking,
no distractions,
little talking.

Later at home
it was cleaning and gutting,
washing and readying
for mom to coat the fish in
flour, salt and pepper
and fry them in hot oil
to a golden brown.
Then came the careful
eating,
avoiding the fine
sharp bones.

It was a skill
I passed down to my sons,
and they may pass down to theirs,
and maybe, if my grandsons visit
after a hard rain,
we’ll head out to the yard at night
for nightcrawler yanking.

About stevenddorsey

I have been an avid writer for as long as I can remember. I enjoy composing poetry, lyrics, children's books and fiction for young adults. I have traveled the world extensively in my 25+ year career as an International Development professional and executive. I have lived in Europe, Latin America, and Africa. I speak Spanish and French. I married Rachel Miltimore in 1985. We have five children and five grandchildren. We currently live in Manassas, Virginia. We enjoy writing children's books together.
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