Early morning, they set whitebait nets together


Start. On the lee side of the mountainous plain
there is an alcove. It beds in a shadow
of dryness: a scape.

Her mountain-mother set whitebait nets
with her last September: the yolky fry of immature fish.

Those high altitudes made her belly quiver.
Above the caterwauling peaks, warm air
and rain condenses. It swifts over top
without dropping.

The Great Fern Radiation takes place;
most mountain families were carved here.
There was a clapping that collided with her tongue.
Glass eels were mistakenly snared in the veined nets; they thrashed
pendulously, bewildered, bleached and oh-so-tired.
Roomy, the alcove is surprisingly light.
It sags into the cliff-
face, a comforting afternoon jowl
slump. There is time enough.

She gathers the nets from beneath the hot asphalt bags; regroups
at the base of the plain; counts supplies;
Start. Its smell is blunt. The new
fiddleheads have not yet sprung.

Her circa mother always
took her early.

These shades of mountains are almost mothers;
these almost mothers are shades of mountains.



Elizabeth Welsh is an editor and poet who has recently returned from living in London for the past five years. Her poetry has been published in LandfalltakahēHue & CryJAAM and various other publications. At present, she is working on her first poetry collection.