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By Eric Chock

Saturday mornings, before

my weekly chores,

I used to sneak out of the house

and across the street,

grabbing the first grasshopper

walking in the damp California grass

along the stream.

Carefully hiding a silver hook

beneath its green wings,

I’d float it out

across the gentle ripples

towards the end of its life.

Just like that.

I’d give it the hook

and let it ride.

All I ever expected for it

was that big-mouth bass

awaiting its arrival.

I didn’t think

that I was giving up one life

to get another,

that even childhood

was full of sacrifice.

I’d just take the bright green thing,

pluck it off its only stalk,

and give it away as if

it were mine to give.

I knew someone out there

would be fooled,

that someone would accept

the precious gift.

So I just sent it along

with a plea of a prayer,

hoping it would spread its wings this time

and fly across that wet glass sky,

no concern for what inspired

its life, or mine,

only instinct guiding pain

towards the other side.


Eric Chock, "The Bait" from Last Days Here. Copyright © 1990 by Eric Chock.  Reprinted by permission of Eric Chock.

Source: Last Days Here (Bamboo Ridge Press, 1990)

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Poet Bio

Eric Chock
Poet, editor, and educator Eric Chock was born in Hawaii in 1950. Coordinator of Poets in the Schools for the Department of Education for more than 20 years, Chock has been a visiting distinguished writer at the University of Hawai’i-Manoa and taught writing and literature at the University of Hawai’i-West O’ahu before his retirement. In his work, Chock frequently explores the experiences of Hawaiian Chinese immigrants, and he is known for his advocacy of “local writing.” See More By This Poet

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