Dad plans all day for what will be a one-hour trip,
gathering vest, hat, waders, net.
We drive our gear across the street
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.
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.