13. Cutthroat

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

tying flies

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.”


Fy-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, 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

no camera.

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 cuttthroat.

Snap a photo. Let it go.