Wednesdays at Camp

by Kirsten Fedorowicz
Noah sets down his fishing rod and reel,
Pulls open the tackle box to reveal the layers of gear
His grandfather bought for his eleventh birthday.
He explains each piece of bait to me like a science project,
The intricate feather hanging off the bobber meant to catch carp,
Holds up the neon yellow ornament he claims caught the biggest fish in Lake Cadillac.
He has me lean over to smell the rubber of fake minnows,
“The scent attracts the biggest fish,” he says,
Smiling at the way my face contorts at the sight of their slimy, synthetic bodies.
Lake Mitchell is full of seaweed and spiky sunfish.
Eight-year-olds pull up clumps of dull green plants with their broken rods,
Reel in sunfish that have already been caught ten times that Thursday.
I’ve watched kids cut their fingers on sharp upper fins,
Blood streaking small palms red.
Noah is skillful, smooths down the along the spine,
Takes the hook from the lip, maneuvers it out of the mouth.
He hands the fish to another camper,
“Hold it here, tightly, carefully.”
Helps them set it in the water, watching as it swims away.
On the weekends, he goes to the dock with his Father,
The two of them talk together and watch the bobbers sit in the water.
These are the moments when he isn’t at camp,
And he examines them as though they are the answer to the universe
Or at least the answer to what he might become.
Noah is patient. He does not need to catch a fish to know
That there is no use in being in a hurry.
Noah and I sit at the desk, both comfortable in silence.
The day is over, and the kids are streaming out to their parents.
His friends are playing basketball on the court,
His sister is giving piggy back rides across the field.
I ask Noah what his favorite part of fishing is and he says, “letting go.”