For my fatherI think by now the river must be thickwith salmon. Late August, I imagine itas it was that morning: drizzle needlingthe surface, mist at the banks like a netsettling around us — everything dampand shining. That morning, awkwardand heavy in our hip waders, we stalkedinto the current and found our places —you upstream a few yards and outfar deeper. You must remember howthe river seeped in over your bootsand you grew heavier with that defeat.All day I kept turning to watch you, howfirst you mimed our guide’s castingthen cast your invisible line, slicing the skybetween us; and later, rod in hand, howyou tried — again and again — to findthat perfect arc, flight of an insectskimming the river’s surface. Perhapsyou recall I cast my line and reeled intwo small trout we could not keep.Because I had to release them, I confess,I thought about the past — workingthe hooks loose, the fish writhingin my hands, each one slipping awaybefore I could let go. I can tell you nowthat I tried to take it all in, record itfor an elegy I’d write — one day —when the time came. Your daughter,I was that ruthless. What does it matterif I tell you I learned to be? You kept castingyour line, and when it did not come backempty, it was tangled with mine. Some nights,dreaming, I step again into the small boatthat carried us out and watch the bank receding —my back to where I know we are headed.
Photo by Tim Foster on Unsplash