Fishing With My Dad
Pimento cheese and bologna
sandwiches folded in wax paper, cold fried chicken,
courtesy of my mother.
Schlitz on ice for dad, grape soda for me,
a quick stop at Pete’s for night crawlers,
our Bass tracker wearing its chapped tarpaulin skin
hitched to the pickup.
Windows down, the drive sets me sifting the air
of the fat and lazy
The land is laden with scarlet rose hibiscus,
bright red as a pomegranate,
the afterbloom of bearded irises that melt
like blue and purple ice back into the air.
My heart is light too and huge,
beating with pure joy, pure helium,
to go fishing with my dad.
At the river, we negotiate the lowering
of the boat off the jagged edge of the ramp,
straighten, bend and enter,
double back as the boat
eases into the river,
the slight current curling
into the swollen water.
Once on the boat,
I lean forward for the righting touch
of the physical world,
as we motor along.
Late sunlight, yawning and stretching,
slides over my body like pollen
The sun I breathe in is pale blue, warm watery skin,
its white winds blow through me.
I take stock as my dad slows to a putter,
miasmal waters of the river,
feed into us.
The boat like a hand feeling through the tide,
cruising over tangle like a water-weed caught
on a submerged limb,
The musty fresh yeast smell of trees rotting,
earth returning to itself,
layer on layer of drowned time drifting away.
My dad chooses his favorite cove,
an old wine bottle floats among grape-fruit peels in the distance,
in the surf of undergrowth,
he swears at the mess, but says the fish will bite here.
A bird in the woods is repeating itself like a stuck groove
on an old record with a defect
as I thread the sharp hook with a juicy night crawler,
my fingers curving and scaly,
wet with details.
I attach the bobber and cast out,
the arch and curve of the rod, the lasso line, the red bulb
plopping neatly in the water.
I sit suspended like the line,
watching the fertile bubbles in the water,
and wait, my ear tuned to my rod,
listening for signals under the blue barrier
for the channel or flathead cats.
My dad is knotting his jig-in-pig for bass,
skimming the bottom of the river like a crawdad.
The bobber jumps and I get the first bite, dad says jerk the line!
An outline tenuous as an echo at first,
a wriggling, ailing sh
aps and ashes across the water as
I reel the catch up over the boat
It pours uid silver and mustard out of the river,
its fat body whipped on the deck,
reciting all the letters of its alphabet,
mouth open, stretched wide in a call or howl.
The discs of its eyes gleam,
white as milky quartz,
this esh bone in its last brittle scream.
At dusk, we put the boat up and sh off the bank,
among yellow-gray grass dunes,
the skin creates islands of warmth
as the light is scooped up.
We catch twenty sh in all, a mess of striped bass and channel cats.
layered on ice ready to be gutted.
We slowly eat our sandwiches and crunch fritos,
breaking into the fried chicken as a slash of sunset appears.
Evening descends, its dark gown
laced with fog.
The hills thicken,
and bur oaks grow in their shadows.
The new moon sheds grace without intention.
We hear crickets and our own hearts,
a crystal darkness, a wine mist rising,
each breath a gift in the steep air,
as we sit side by side,
wordless comfort suspended in each other.
The stars are purring in our majestic little world.
Rhonda Morrison, October 15, 2012