by Ryan Kingsley
I break before day to begin.
The stove-top coffee pot, poles on the porch,
two English muffin-and-orange breakfasts with coffee
to down like shots, the life-vests, the lures
in the tackle-box I organize over and over:
color, rubber or plastic, targeted fish, number of hooks,
jig or spoon.
When the moon
finally hooks beyond the cliffs I wake my father.
Bathroom, coffee, bathroom, coffee.
Check the gear.
We greet the last batch of mosquitoes
in the shadow of Sugarloaf Mountain.
Eddying in years of understood boredom
finned by flashes of glory, we reel silence, mostly.
Together, we’ve waited years: I, for first light,
he, for the coffee. I waited for the fish to bite,
he waited for the calm. I waited to learn the bail,
the drag, and the secrets.
I paddled him to the warms spots for the bass
dredged from the shallows; he paddled
me back to the middle for the rainbow trout that fly,
and we both cursed the perch that waste our time.
Judging the depth in the middle proved trickiest.
Now, this morning when the fish won’t bite
we wait around the edges. Mussels furrow
between reeds too dense for casting,
and we wait in sacred ceremony.
We seek nothing, casting for fish we can’t see,
admiring mist we can’t hold,
trading secrets in worms and yawns, back and forth.