Aline Soules – Night of Thick Clouds

Aline Soules’ work has appeared in the Kenyon Review, Houston Literary Review, Poetry Midwest, The Galway Review, and others. Her book reviews appear in Tupelo Quarterly, Heavy Feather Review, and Matter Monthly. She earned her MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles in both poetry and fiction, and also has her M.A. in English and her M.S.L.S. (library science). She is currently working on her latest historical novel. Online:

Night of Thick Clouds

Low clouds hang over the black water of Loch Fyne. 
Saltwater slaps the pebble beach, slick with wet
and seaweed slime, night so dark we load the rowboat
by feel alone—line, gaff, net, bait dug from sand
that afternoon.

We push the boat into the sea, climb aboard in stealth, 
the boys each pulling an oar, our only light
the water itself when we lean over the side to trail
cold hands in the colder loch, luminescence
in the wake of spread fingers.

Silent, poaching past our quota, compelled by our need
for fish to salt for winter.  Old Mac missing a finger
from a long-ago night of dynamiting the river mouth,
still threads lines with ease for tonight we fish
the old way—

trail nets while the boys row, hoping to catch
saith and lythe mid-depth, and later at anchor
lower weighted lines for haddock and cod deep
below the surface, gaffing fish as we pull line,
their bodies shimmering like our fingers
spread in the sea.

We drop the fish on floorboards, pull the gaff’s barb
from their gills to hook another, while they flap their last
around our icy feet.  Mixed water and fish blood rise,
forcing us to bail.

Clouds shift and open the sky.  Moon pennies dance
on the tops of the moving waves as we reach shore
and drag the boat above tideline.  We crouch low,
gut fish at the end of the stone pier, wash entrails
into the sea as fast as we can.

We haul our catch to the shed as a sliver of light
warns of dawn.  We barrel fish with brine, take a few
into the house to eat with floury potatoes
and go to bed with the rising sun.



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