Happy Father's Day, Dad. I love you!
|My Dad and me, 1972ish|
To pull the metal hook from the fish's mouth
my father focused all attention on his catch.
I watched his puckered face and not the fish's.
With only a few finger sweeps , he’d removed
the iron sliver I thought it'd die from.
I can’t remember the words,
but hear the speechless motion, a creak
of row lock, a slap-slap of water beside us.
And I recall his hands,
two knuckled planes, one wedding band's
glint in the sun,
a flame of benediction
he raised above my head.
Had you rowed out with us that morning
you would have thought you'd seen a man
fishing, a brown-haired girl sprawled across the bow,
book cover shielding the sun's flame.
Had you followed that boat
you would have arrived here,
where I pause at every creekbed.
Look how I search for trout, bass, bullhead
to find the ones that got away.
Watch as I scan every water field for ripples.
I was seven when my father
took me on the St. Lawrence,
and I did not fear the great steamships.
Slamming within their water wake, I did not think
Metal that will bury me,
christen our aluminum rowboat journey,
Poor Fisherman and His Daughter.
And I did not lift my face into the spray and cry,
We're going to be killed!
I did what a child does
when she’s invited into adventure. I leaned into the wind and
I trusted my father.
* ADAPTED FROM A POEM BY LI-YOUNG LEE
|St. Lawrence River, 1978|