Queen's Quarterly

Queen's Quarterly
Queen's Quarterly

Fishing Report: East Timor

Henry Hughes

Rowing the dump’s plastic swells,
children drop lines baited with magnets
for scrap, hooked
and tossed in a basket. Flies stick to unwashed dishes,
boys sort circuit boards and chargers,
and a bulging pregnant woman burns rubber
off tangled copper.

Just beyond the hill is the blue sea, white terns
and our waxed boat, trolling for sailfish
without a strike. We stop at reef’s edge to drink beer
and jig for snapper.

I tell the others on the charter
that my kids have no interest in fishing.
It’s all computers and smartphones.
The Australian skipper nods, Mine, too, then points
to the crisp display on the glowing fish finder –
sonar swishes that tighten lines,
bend rods, and fill our cooler.


Henry Hughes, a past contributor to Queen’s Quarterly, is the author of four poetry collections, including Men Holding Eggs, which received the 2004 Oregon Book Award, and the memoir Back Seat with Fish: A Man’s Adventures in Angling and Romance. Hughes edited the Everyman’s anthologies The Art of Angling: Poems about Fishing and Fishing Stories. His commentary on new poetry appears regularly in Harvard Review.