local_library Modus Operandi

by Rebecca Seiferle

Published in Issue No. 52 ~ September, 2001

from Bitters

You were never to consider the worm

itself, drowning upon the hook, in a drift

of river or lake, or how it felt

when the barb punctured its body

at three or four strategic points. . .coiled

tightly around the metal, so it would survive

again and again your casting into the distance,

the falling through the air, the shock of striking

the surface. The idea was to make the worm

last as long as possible, though extending its life

was extending its suffering, so you could rethread

its brown vibrant length as it became slack, pale,

and waterlogged, carefully as a rich man threading

his way through the eye of a needle, even sometimes

managing to salvage enough leftover from the mouth

of a trout to use the worm again. Mud puppies

dredged from stock ponds, shimmering minnows,

baby frogs, crawdads, grasshoppers leaping

on the hook – all were means to an end: a fish

in the pan, an afternoon’s art or recreation,

an exercise of skill, an idea of how to work

a stream or pond, and it became a way of looking

at things, a way of being. You remember this

when you hear on the evening news that a man

in a nearby town who molested six toddlers

began by using his own three-year-old daughter–

her wanting to play with other children – as bait.

account_box More About

Rebecca Seiferle is the Editor/Publisher of The Drunken Boat. Her third poetry collection, Bitters, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon this Fall. Poems from the collection have appeared or are forthcoming in Partisan Review, Boulevard, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, etc. Rebecca's last book, The Music We Dance To (Sheep Meadow 1999) was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. The title poem won the Hemley Award from the Poetry Society of America, and another poem was published in Best American Poetry 2000. Her first book, The Ripped-Out Seam, won the Writers' Exchange Award and the Bogin Award from the Poetry Society of America. Her translation of Vallejo's Trilce was the only finalist for the 1992 PenWest Translation Award.