They come at night, the spirit fish,
With lanterns through the channel darks,
And ask the shore to give them back
The hooks, disgorgers, floats and line.
They make their dolls from wasted casts,
And form the hollow human shapes.
Beneath the overhanging trees
They cough their empty, gaping chants.
And somewhere sleeping, dreaming dry,
An angler turns and gasps and chokes.
A mouth drops open, feels the tug
Of barbless bronze and foaming blood.
The spirit fish will take their share:
They catch their quota, make things fair.