Dana Guthrie Martin

Our Story


I thought I knew what I wanted to say
about language, but all I can think of now
is my father on the lake, his rod bent,                                                                                                                                            our anticipation
of what would happen next — a fish

writhing in the boat near our feet
as my mother tried to lift it into the cooler,
one last look at its not-yet-clouding eye
before we slid the cooler’s lid into place.                                                                                                                          When the line went lax

and we lost one, we were suddenly not.
Not family, not unified, not defined                                                                                                                        against what could have been:
the thrill, the fear, the sadness of what we,
together, had done. We were not organized

around the words capture and gut and dinner
and sport. We were wordless — indistinct
from boat, lake, countryside, gravel roads.
How would we become us again,                                                                                                                                                  without the body

we gathered for? Without that single word —
fish — and all it held, holding us apart
as other, as separate from, as living?


“Our Story” originally appeared in Knockout Literary Magazine.

Dana Guthrie Martin’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Barrow Street, Boxcar Poetry Review, Failbetter, Hobble Creek Review, Knockout Literary Magazine and Vinyl Poetry. Her chapbooks include In the Space Where I Was (Hyacinth Girl Press, forthcoming), Toward What Is Awful (YesYes Books, 2012) and The Spare Room (Blood Pudding Press, 2009). She edits Cascadia Review, an online poetry journal that showcases work by poets in the Cascadia bioregion.