Robert Hahn: “Fish-Fry Night on the Georgia Coast”


We drink gin-and-tonics and toss our fish-bones
Off the dock. The shallows stir. Our talk slows down.
Over on the far side of the marsh
Blue lights flash on the Interstate bridge.
Driving While Black, says Duane—he knows

The cops, their quotas, the fines, and where to find
Someone who might forgive them.
The night sky settles around us, damper and darker.
Claudette starts spinning the fairy tale
About the way they found each other.

I knew Duane was the one for me.
We married other folks, met again in Atlanta,
But not by chance. It was meant to be.

Pillow talk. Sweet talk. What I say to Katie,
My new girlfriend, when I’m in the mood.

I see that Larry is brooding though—he’s heard enough.
Long years of sobriety have made him weary
Of romantic songs. Of drinking a case of us.
Do you believe Katie was waiting, just for you?
Well as Hemingway said, “Isn’t it pretty to think so.”

Larry’s gloom can be soulful, on the trumpet he plays
With pickup groups in Savannah, in half-empty bars,
Because he loves it so. Tonight it sounds like the dregs
Of bitterness, sinking in the marsh. Catfish
Slither beneath the dock. The dark water glints.

Claudette goes on talking. She can’t let go
Of her fable, because it ends so happily
(Waiting all those years, just for you).
She tells it with so much brio
I almost believe it’s true.

Robert Hahn is a poet, translator, and essayist. Five books of his poetry have been published, most recently the prize-winning No Messages (University of Notre Dame Press). Periodical appearances include Southern Review, Kenyon Review, Bellingham Review, Ninth Letter, Antioch Review, New England Review, Southern Humanities Review, American Scholar, Boston Review, Chicago Review, Denver Quarterly, Georgia Review, Harper’s Magazine, Massachusetts Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, The New Republic, Notre Dame Review, Paris Review, Parnassus, Prairie Schooner, Raritan, Sewanee Review, Southwest Review, TriQuarterly, and The Yale Review. He has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, The MacDowell Foundation, and The Bogliasco Foundation.

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