Night fishing with Daddy

(from The Everyday Wife)

We turn off the national road,bump-bump-bumping through the veld,till we arrive at the great wet eye of the dam. The sun is low but it’s still light. We unpack the truck. I’ve brought a friend along, she’s thirteen to my aspirant twelve. While daddy puts up the tent,we play shyly around the water’s edge.She’s Italian, not used to camping or the outdoors. Her brand new tackies sparkle against the wild grasses. Two boys swim across the dam to talk to us. They ask us if we are models. My eyes are full of my friend: she’s so sophisticated, the way she laughs at boys. Daddy prepares the rods and the bait. I am self-conscious.I don’t want her to see how expertly I can hook a worm.
Our favourite fish are sweet-fleshed kurper and carp. We use worms for carp. Kurper prefer lumps of bread or mielie pap flavoured with custard powder or curry. We grasp the rod sand follow
daddy’s movement, and cast.Listen
to the long song of the line
as it flies over the water, then the plop as the
bait-laden hooks hit the surface, and we
girls giggling. Three times: song, plop,
giggle,
song plop giggle

song plop giggle.

Daddy lights the lantern. Boredom nibbles at our minds. A wild bird bustles noisily through
the reeds, finding its nest. I steal a look at my friend.She sits passively as the shadows come to
lie around her like old pets. I am mortified: she must be hating this. Teenagers should not be
forced to go fishing. Worm-like I resent, struggling against the hook; then the darkness claims me,
I

surrender to night
expectant
as the water
holds secrets in its
mouth
like babies

Phillippa Yaa de Villiers

(A slightly different version of this poem received an honourable mention in the 2011 Kikakuza Haibun Contest in Japan)