Tonight men walk with flashlights beside the road,
their cars parked at City Point by the bridge, 
and I think they must be elvers. Men seeking elusive 

glass eels. Green ferns pulled down beneath 
mud and rubber boots, these men enter
the river where it ebbs and wallows, lugging 

fyke nets, metal chains rattling like coins in pockets.
Tiny diaphanous offspring struggling in from the ocean,
transparent gold, enough to line the coffers of the most

balky of fishers. Men who scramble along the earth’s 
hard face, kicked by sun, maligned by rain, stuck
in the throat of dirty snow. Determined. The ice melts, 

waters warm and their own sorry bellies pull them 
to the river as surely as the young eels are called upstream. 
Twenty six hundred dollars a pound. What does that equal 

in hours spent wielding a saw in a damp woodlot or stocking 
shelves at Walmart? Asians weep for this food, grow noodle  
thin American eels to adults and sell them at market. 

These Anguilla rostrata will never see the Sargasso Sea, 
never turn yellow and plump in brackish water. Caught
in nets, they turn in star-backed water like letters

that have lost their form, shift in this unnatural space, 
no longer moving with the tidal stream. Instead, lifted 
by calloused hands, they shine in picnic coolers shoved into 

pickup trucks, slosh against each other down pock-marked 
roads on the way to docks and dealers. Their thread-like bodies 
a writhing promise, treasure held in red and white chests.

Worcester Review
Vol. XXXVII No. 1 & 2
Fall 2016