Striped Bass

In the coves and shallows
through the wetland channels,

down the Nanticoke and the Choptank,
the Sassafras and the Wye,

down the Pokamoke and the Corsica
great spring floods of bass

ease into the Chesapeake,
to its mouth at St. Charles, and turn north
to Plum Island and Newburyport.

Southeast winds clear the Atlantic shores
as stripers move in the tidal surge,

ecstatic, as full as quince,
as gnarled black bark grown green,

in water so shallow their bronze scales gleam
above the riptide foam and swell.

We wait in the dark, positioning the bag nets,
as they move in the tide, the gathering swell
of fear, the archaeology of loss.