CCW Finalist, Poetry
Electrofishing Sturgeon, Kootenai Lake
by Eileen Apperson
With the jolt of an electric prod
the fish float to the surface, stunned.
The bio-aide reaches out into the polluted
water, grasping the tagged females without a fight.
With a sure knife she slits the white belly
of prehistory, squeezes, letting the jelly
of eggs ooze onto her speckled white
thumb nail, balancing the imperfect pearls
into the glass vial between her knees.
She talks to the fish, calls them Dearie
and Sweet Little Thing. Gills still flapping,
mouths gasping she sews their wounds
closed, quick, smooth strokes and places them
back into their murky home, pushing them
back and forth by their tails, filling gills
with water until they jolt out of slippery hands.
Before reaching for the next, she wipes her palms
on her sweatshirt's pocket as the boat slowly rocks.