To the Happy Fisherman
Ayla Goktan

I’m sick of all these poets who keep
referencing April. Instead, tell me
more about the marimba of hope
in the next letter you write.
Use that word audacity again,
& don’t mention America.
People who have lived 
through darker times than ours
think courage is key,
so it must be. I don’t even remember
what I was doing in April.
Taking online classes, sure, walking
Aunt Laura’s dog, but what I mean is
I don’t remember how I was feeling.
Brave? Despairing? Certainly not
whatever I felt last night
when the movie showed a sign
above the hero’s door: al feliz pescador.
“Everything is both happy & sad,”
I told a guy on a second date,
sitting in the park at a safe
enough distance. This is
the year everyone got clumsier
at goodbyes, & I’m obsessed
with thresholds more than ever.
Say “delusion angel” & it’s the window
into a poem, place an oriental rug
in the hall leading to the door
& a cat will run its length twenty times
a day. And you, writing me that letter
about resilience—remind me
what your grandma saw reading
the lines that mar your hand,
& if she knows the fate
of any country, & whether
you found in a lake or river
the delirium of release.

Ayla Goktan earned a poetry MFA from Boston University. She has lived on both coasts, in the Midwest, and in Ireland, and her poetry often explores the meaning of place in our lives. Ayla has been published in Talking Writing, Driftwood Press, and elsewhere. She was longlisted for the 2017 Nâzım Hikmet Poetry Prize.

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