Flounder

By Natasha Trethewey b. 1966 Natasha Trethewey
Here, she said, put this on your head.
She handed me a hat.
You ’bout as white as your dad,
and you gone stay like that.

Aunt Sugar rolled her nylons down
around each bony ankle,
and I rolled down my white knee socks
letting my thin legs dangle,

circling them just above water
and silver backs of minnows
flitting here then there between
the sun spots and the shadows.

This is how you hold the pole
to cast the line out straight.
Now put that worm on your hook,
throw it out and wait.

She sat spitting tobacco juice
into a coffee cup.
Hunkered down when she felt the bite,
jerked the pole straight up

reeling and tugging hard at the fish
that wriggled and tried to fight back.
A flounder, she said, and you can tell
’cause one of its sides is black.

The other side is white, she said.
It landed with a thump.
I stood there watching that fish flip-flop,
switch sides with every jump.

Natasha Trethewey, “Flounder” from Domestic Work. Copyright © 2000 by Natasha Trethewey. Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press.

Source: Domestic Work (Graywolf Press, 2000)

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Poet Natasha Trethewey b. 1966

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Activities, Sports & Outdoor Activities, Nature, Animals, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity

 Natasha  Trethewey

Biography

Natasha Trethewey was born in Gulfport, Mississippi, the daughter of poet, professor, and Canadian emigrant Eric Trethewey and social worker Gwendolyn Ann Turnbough. The daughter of a mixed-race marriage, Trethewey experienced her parents’ divorce when she was six. She subsequently spent time in Atlanta, Georgia, with her mother and in New Orleans, Louisiana, with her father. Encouraged to read as a child, Trethewey studied . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Activities, Sports & Outdoor Activities, Nature, Animals, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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