April 14, 2013
A Brief History of Patience

A hundred or so lobster pots cut loose

and chock full of dead catch. Broken jaw

of a pier. Summers I learned

what once was buried just as easily

might surface: car keys, caulking gun,

whale rib the size of a park bench.

Boys rode their boats like bulls. Were bucked

and washed ashore with half the throttle fast beneath

the foam white knuckles of their fists.

Salt hitched my hair and scraped my skin.

Bottles in the cooler clinked like dice.

Nights, I would wait for the first fish

to swallow the hook. The trick, I learned,

was not to force it, was to let the fish feel the pain

that comes from blindness and mistake.


—Keith Leonard   (Monroe County)

This poem first appeared in Best New Poets 2009.

Keith Leonard was born and raised on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. He has held scholarships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and Indiana University, where he received an MFA and served as Poetry Editor of Indiana Review. A recipient of an Academy of American Poets prize, his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Best New Poets 2009, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Journal, Mid-American Review and Washington Square Review, among other journals.

Indiana Humanities is posting a poem a day from Indiana poets in celebration of National Poetry Month.

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