Paul Protheroe – Fishing with dad

Protheroe LE Aotearoa NZ P&W April 2023

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Live Encounters Aotearoa New Zealand Poets & Writers April 2023

Fishing with dad, poem by Paul Protheroe

Fishing with dad at Raumati south in the sixties

Petulant light
nibbles away
at the earth’s drying deck
as we arrive

at the shore’s periphery
like tramps
or actors earmarked
for seafaring roles, in hole-pecked attire.

On the horizon Kapiti island
like a obstructive, lazy monstrosity
seems to constrain
the tide’s swirling motion.

This island’s history is notorious;
Te Rauparaha’s tribal fortress,
with stories of bloody conspiracies,
yet an ideal backdrop

for our day’s activities.
Fishing is the priority;
to scrape the sea’s clammy floor
for indolent flounders, soles,

the odd dysfunctional crab.
This is the “old man’s”
grand escape from stress,
human capriciousness.

In frisky waves
we trawl a reluctant drag- net
parallel to the beach.
My Dad as the helmsman

exercises a strategy
for “bringing back flickering kai moana”
trapped in inorganic flotsam;
a foreshadow of a future catastrophe.

Bedraggled, tired, we reek of brine
as we extract our fishy winnings,
enough for a family breakfast;
slippery, faded-black buttered discs.

© Paul Protheroe

Paul Protheroe, 78, retired mail officer, unionist. Stood for the Alliance Party in two elections. Employment advocate, teacher for migrants, CAB volunteer. Secretary Cambodian youth and recreational trust. Published selected poems “One fingered in Papatoetoe” 2006, “Sometimes like Taurus” 2014 and “Creeping along the bloodline” 2020. Recently published in Takahe. Wrote a book for Cambodian community, now translated into Khmer. Divorced. Three adult sons, two grandchildren. Lives in Manurewa Auckland.

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