Jan Ball


I download the photo of Jason
with the silver fish and see it is
so heavy that his knuckles are white
with the weight of it, one hand tight
on the tail above his left shoulder,
the other lost in the accosting balcony
shadow; his cigarette drips ashes
from between his determined lips,
the sun pink as a healing wound
across the horizon; so unusual
to catch the black drum on his
first cast into the Gulf as children
on the beach and  neighbors we
know in adjacent condos glow
with admiration but just six weeks
ago, we found him curled up like
a moon snail on his couch with track
marks down both arms red as seagull
eyes, passive with Mexican Black Tar,
and then the intervention, the rehab,
at last clean under our family’s
supervision at the beach just a little
longer, and now, at dusk, he has waded
into the water, fishing pole in hand,
to coax this silver beauty from the sea.

JAN BALL IS A CHICAGO POET who lived in Australia for fifteen years. She is twin to Jean Helmken, and was a Franciscan nun for seven years. When not writing poetry, teaching ESL, working with her personal trainer, singing with the Sweet Adelines, going to book group or traveling, she and her husband like to cook for friends.



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