Skip to content →

Net Makers


They stitched their lives into my days,

Blues Point fishermen, with a smoke

stuck to their bottom lips, bodies bent


forward, inspecting a haul-net’s wing

draped from a clothes line. Their hands

darting through mesh, holding bone


net needles, maybe a special half-needle

carved from tortoise shell. Their fingers,

browned by clusters of freckles


and tobacco tar, slippery with speed—

they wove everything they knew

into the mesh, along with the love they had,


or had lost, or maybe not needed.

During my school holidays I watched them

and came to love this craft


of mending, in our backyard by the harbour,

surrounded by copper tubs brimming

with tanning soup brewed from


bloodwood and wild-apple bark.

These men could cut the heart clean

from a fish with a swipe of a fillet knife


and fill buckets with gut flecked

with the iridescent backs of flies

as it fermented into liquid fertilizer.


I’d water my father’s beds of vegetables,

rows of silverbeet, a fence of butterbeans.

In the last of the sun, I’d watch


our peacock spread its fan;

the hose sprayed water from a water tank, house high

fed by gravity.

from Net NeedleFind more by Robert Adamson at the library

Copyright © 2015 Robert Adamson
Used with the permission of Flood Editions.

Published in Poems Robert Adamson

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.