It’s the fail you don’t hear about the failures the white man says his eyes are red like his skin like he’s sunburnt and he scratches He wants to know if we caught Him and Abe says You alright mister? but he ain’t lookin’ out on the water to where our lines are gone What you got there? he’s seen it shining I don’t wear it on my finger Mama made a necklace he sees it round my neck though I’m in the shadows the sun out in the current the tree hanging over us it too was burnt but black like sin and a house was there the Preacher said it’s a condition O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? the law? the law is a human institution For the good that I would I do not Mama hid there and Grandfather went looking for her in a sideways rain like the storm which has passed the hair of the tree is hanging down now like her hair it moves with the wind the white man stands under it he reaches up and pulls a strand look into the Spanish moss wrapping it around his finger like a ring And with the years the locks turned grey, and spread from tree to tree the white man says but he’s eyeing my ring Abe sees and says Oh that’s just a toy he got from a Cracker Jack box he gets to cryin’ if he don’t have it he was always losin’ it so Mama put it on a string for him she retted some of what you got there and fashioned a necklace he’s had it since I was born I’m startin’ the first grade after tomorrow Is that so? the white man says And what’s he think it is Is it magic? He supposes it is I reckon Abe says He’s had it as long as he’s had his guitar Papa David gave it to him when he was nine Is that so? the white man says Maybe it is magic Maybe you could use it to catch a fish with the way it shines I’m sure a big channel cat would strike You think? Abe says A catfish? Sure Why not a catfish A big one to Ain’t you heard of the Big Fish in these here waters? Follow me and I will make you fishers of men I’ll give you five dollars for it It ain’t for sale Abe says I reckon Solomon won’t ever give up that ring He holds it more dear than Papa David’s guitar He thinks it’s magic Is that so? the white man says Why don’t you tie it with this here Spanish moss tie it to your fishing line and I’ll bet you catch Him You think? Abe says Now don’t you start bellerin’ Sol The man’s just sayin’… just think of what them other boys would do if we caught Him Five dollars you say? So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin I bet you five dollars you use that on your line and you’ll catch the biggest catfish you ever saw and Abe whistles low under his breath But what if we lose it? What if the line breaks? You won’t surely die You said it yourself it’s just a toy a trinket but the way it shines I’m sure a big fish will strike and this here Spanish moss is strong It won’t break you won’t lose it not to this old river and you shall be as gods Damn! But don’t I itch! Them damn figs even my clothes bother me! Sun sure is hot after that storm passin’ last night Don’t you boys have church to go to this mornin’? I finished my chores Mama said I could go fishin’ before we go hear the Preacher if I took him along don’t mind his bellerin’ he ain’t right What you think Sol? It can’t hurt to try…

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