Making Fishing Sinkers - Tumby Bay

May 16, 2018


When we were young children, our parents would annually take us back to my father's birthplace: the small seaside town of Tumby Bay on the west coast of South Australia.  Amongst the tasks of preparing for the holiday was to get the fishing gear in order; and to make sinkers.  The method was to pour molten lead into different impressions in damp sand.  My favourite was my father's thumbprint. Going through some things left over from my childhood recently, I discovered one,  and of course it instantly became more than just a fishing sinker; it stood rather as a very special symbol of all of the things my father had taught and given me as a child.

Making Sinkers


my father
would always let me spill
the sputtering lead
from the small primus burner
into his thumb prints
in the sharp wet sand
                                     spoon sinkers

for the dragging surf
off Christmas beaches
                                      and I had thought
that none came back
that I had lost them all
from the long lines
between his own forbearance
and the restive sea

on rocks
or the deep dark floating weed
beneath the glaucous waves
                                                 one got through
I turned it up
years after the firmness of his hand
upon my own uncertain
twitching line
was gone
                a small dulled pendant
it stood for something more now
the alchemy
of all that I once had from him
without my knowing then
and found
with some surprise
when I first needed something to hold me
cast off from an altogether different beach
without warning
into a strange and difficult sea







© 2017 Jeff Guess

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