Otter fishing in the Sundarbans

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Off prompt today, sorry NaPoWriMo! Didn’t fancy writing a backwards story because I’ve been thrilled by accounts of otter fishing, still a living practise in the mangroves of Bangladesh, where generations of fishermen raise domesticated otters to herd fish into their nets, pups learning from their parents. I’ve taken inspiration, images and some entire phrases from this great eye witness account  and also from this deliciously atmospheric website celebrating the Sundarbans.

You can watch footage of otter fishing here and here.

Otter fishing in the Sundarbans

damp-mouthed

the beautiful forest receives

the falling night

smears it kohl-black

along its starless, brackish

watervoids

 

where fish trace cursive

drowned comets

tinysilvertremblers

elders swung on a chain

of tailflicks like

heavy-flanked censers

 

in a bamboo box

a writhing otterknot

cacophonous yipping

piercing the slats

their whiskers and stench

of fermented mud

 

treacherous

the estuaries breath the tide

into their bronchioles

new islands breach

spines of giant crocodiles

midstream, middream

 

the mud shifts

whispers under

the paws of maneaters

the striped jungle

conceals its secret hives

its weapons

 

fisherman, release them

longleashed from the narrow boat

dogfaced snouting

fish from crannies

playful, frisking

fish from gullies

 

in swamps where

translucent women wade

neck deep dragging

nets through shrimp-seethe

and are eaten tiger-silent

down to their screams

 

this is the only joyful hunt

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Otter fishing in the Sundarbans

  1. Wow, I think you made the right choice to ignore the prompt. This is wonderful. Captures so well the mystery of symbiosis of humans / animals / nature

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