13. Rio Grande River, near Creede, Colorado

Dad plans all day for what will be a one-hour trip,

tying flies

gathering vest, hat, waders, net.


We drive our gear across the street

to fish

this Wild and Scenic River.


“Where’s your pole?” he asks.

I grin and hold up a bamboo pole (5 bucks at the gas station).

He frowns. “I’ll go help your mother.”


Mom loves fly fishing.

It is the only time she is quiet.

Dad arranges everything just so, just the way she likes it.


The air is cool, but not

the midday sun.

Mosquitoes everywhere.


Me and my cheap pole can’t fish worth a damn.

I stand in the freezing river and laugh.

Mom watches the water.


Dad watches Mom

who casts her line by feel.

With the tumor deep in her eye, the world looks sepia.


Still she is the first to spy

the cutthroat trout

darting through the ripples, over the stones


right to Dad.

He sets the hook. Keeps the tension.

Uses the net.


“Get the camera!” he yells.

I drop my feeble pole run to the bank.

paw through the Orvis bags but


there’s no camera.

Mom quotes Psalm 10:9 as if her well-marked Bible

were sitting right there beside the river:


He catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.

“Not today,” Dad says.

Returns the trout to its natural habitat.


He will load up his flies again,

but she will not.

The Good Lord will scoop her up


soon after that tumor connects with all the others,

forming a net.

A year and a half later,


Dad will come back.

He will catch another trout,

and then he will let it go.