Here, she said, put this on your head.
She handed me a hat.
you ’bout as white as your dad,
and you gone stay like that.
Aunt Sugar rolled her nylons down
around each bony ankle,
and I rolled down my white knee socks
letting my thin legs dangle,
circling them just above water
and silver backs of minnows
flitting here then there between
the sun spots and the shadows.
This is how you hold the pole
to cast the line out straight.
Now put that worm on your hook,
throw it out and wait.
She sat spitting tobacco juice
into a coffee cup.
Hunkered down when she felt the bite,
jerked the pole straight up
reeling and tugging hard at the fish
that wriggled and tried to fight back.
A flounder, she said, and you can tell
’cause one of its sides is black.
The other is white, she said.
It landed with a thump.
I stood there watching that fish flip-flop,
switch sides with every jump.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Natasha Trethewey's poem Flounder

2 Comments

  1. Emile Moelich says:

    To flounder,
    use a pounder
    it goes like a rounder
    and ends in the founder.

    Later it goes to the grinder

    Nobody seems to mind
    or seems to be kind
    but hopefully
    somebody will found the flounder.

  2. John Trethewey says:

    A piece of biography, or polemical fiction, like most of this poet’s work that I’ve seen (not much, I have to say!). The poet (not the child, surely!) identifies with a flounder, but surely not with the flounder’s desperation. Emotion invented in tranquility.

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