By CL Bledsoe

A tornado knocked down the tin
shack we stored chemicals in, dumping
old poison, fertilizer, oil, who
can remember what into the white dust.

We figured more room to store the fish
we kept in vats in the south shed might cut
down on floaters, so we backhoed
a pit and bulldozed dirt up in a square

on the edge of the east field where the shed
once stood — we grew winter wheat, corn,
even grapes, there, once upon a time — trucked
in water and filled it with fingerlings

that were all floating in a couple days.
We scooped them out, buried them to cut
the smell, and started a series of experiments
based on the often drunken assertions

of passersby, involving dumping various
chemicals into the water, usually when
we were drunk, ourselves. We didn’t know
what was killing them and didn’t want

to waste the money restocking it over
and over, so folks would bring whatever
strange fish they caught and didn’t want:
bowfins, grass carp, drums, gars, even

turtles. Nothing we could sell. Trout,
bass, crappies, and the like floated within
a day, but the trash fish survived. Eventually,
bullfrogs sang. Nobody’d eat them.

Stuff My Stupid Heart Likes by CL Bledsoe (co-author of and The Wild Word:

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store