Don't get carried away with the bailing,
Warned Marguerite. The possibilities,
Though endlessly fascinating to some,
Have already exhausted my short patience.

But it takes less time to tell than to do.
This constant work left me little time
Either to navigate across the sea
Or indeed to cast my net out for fish.
But even had I time to navigate
That time would not have provided me much
Without a compass or nautical charts,
Without a sextant, without a memory
For the movement of the planets and the stars
And the suns and the moons which came and went
Whenever they pleased and observed no rules
And so neither surprised me when they appeared
Nor disappointed me when they disappeared.
Some mystics will tell you, if asked or not,
That whichever way for prayer you face,
For true believers that way is Mecca,
Although it's best not to make a test,
Since such ways are not always direct
When time comes to set off in haj.
It's likewise, a bit, for clueless who fish.
In truth, one place was as good as the next,
For even had I time to cast my net,
That time would not have provided me much
So ill-equipped a fishboat had I.
Although I had a net, I lacked a club
With which to beat a sea-creature senseless
And lacked a pail into which I could fling
Its bleeding form, now turned cold and limp,
For had I such a pail I, no fool,
Would've bailed out water with that pail
Instead of using beer tin in port hand
Or using soup tin in starboard hand,
Neither of which, of course, would fit a fish
That wouldn't slip through the mesh of my net.

This story, parrot, is getting stagnant.
Can you get on with it? said Margeuerite.

But then one day my luck took a turn,
For the better it seemed, but really for worse.
On that day I was sitting there in my boat,
Afloat right beneath heaven's apex,
To my eye a spot as suited as any,
When I felt the slight change in the net's drag
That indicated, even to incompetents,
Perhaps a fish, perhaps a clot of weed.
This came, as such interruptions do,
Just as I was about to begin lunch.
But no meal can ever compete with this,
The small shiver that races through the net,
The little shock with which world will announce
That time has come to play a game of chance.
It's why we go down to the seas in boats
Or drop onto peaks from helicopters
Or drive through forests in our four by fours.
Fortune will hide behind roadside shrubs
And time to time throw some carcass out.
You don't know if the hurtling slab of meat
Is a white stag that bounds across your path
As call to adventure, the start of a tale,
Or moose doomed to go through your windshield,
An end to two tales, both your's and his,
Or just an eyelash-stuck bacon crumb.
Some feel this thrill once, some never,
And some so often it goes unnoticed.
Nine times or less per year is optimal
To keep the thrill undiminished, alive,
Assuming no occasion turns tragic,
Or so ancient sages learned from visions
Dismantled with care, as cats with dead mice,
Part by ruined part, so to remember,
So to catch it before it slips away
And hides again in piles of greasy bones.
This is how all new knowledge is gained,
Which berries are bitter, which bring death,
And which go well with a dollop of cream.
And these dreams arrive with that same jolt,
That same unanticipated thrill
That doesn't leave until the fruit's consumed
And you fall down dead or smile with relief.
I drew the net in and found that I'd caught
A fish, a small fish, too small a fish,
Salmon, I'd say, from the adipose fin.
I flung it back in, cast again net,
Again felt snag, again drew it back.
When net returned, the same fish was there.

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