also published in The Joy of Poetry and at Tweetspeak Poetry
Dad plans all day for what will be a one-hour trip
gathering vest, hat, waders, net.
We drive our gear down the mountainside
to fish this Wild and Scenic River,
the Rio Grande.
“Where’s your pole” Dad asks.
I hold up a bamboo pole (5 bucks at the gas station).
He frowns, “I’ll go help your mother.”
Fly fishing 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
Me and my cheap pole can’t fish and I can’t
care as I stand in the freezing river and watch Mom
watch the water.
Dad watches her
cast her line despite the tumor deep in her eye
turning the waves sepia.
Still she is the first to spy
the cutthroat trout
darting right toward Dad.
He sets the hook. Keeps
the tension. Extends the net.
“Get the camera!” he yells.
I drop my pole, paw through Orvis bags but
Mom quotes the psalm
as if her Bible were open
beside the riverbank:
He catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.
Dad returns the trout to its home.
He will load up his flies again
but she will not. The Good Lord
will scoop her up
after this tumor connects with the others,
forms a net.
When Dad returns
he will catch another cutthroat.
Snap a photo. Let it go.