Every now and then
one comes up in the net.
Usually, they are long dead,
though a few show some flicker of life,
enough to glare at us,
gnashing their teeth
till the ropes are frayed
before they give up the ghost
or whatever it is that possesses them.
Sometimes I think perhaps they are
caught under bridges near the sea
by a sudden outtake of tide,
pulled from their moorings by the moon
and swept out before they can tempt
any passerby into rescuing them.
Or maybe they have merely taken
wading out to sea to lure lifeguards
into returning them to land,
hoping to bite any samaritans
all the way back
to show their delight at being rescued.
Then, in the midst of pretending to drown,
they discover they really are drowning,
no rescue in sight.
Still, none of us really knows
how they get into the nets,
replacing the usual mermaid or sea serpent.
And we'd really rather have
the anticipated wonders.
Sometimes they damage the nets so much
even the sea serpents can slip through,
leaving us to hold up spread hands impotently
to signify the one that got away.
From the shore,
our wives salute us back
with empty kitchen pans.