he showed me how to cast out.
where the weights go. fish eyes beneath
lake surface. his bare feet. july,
a pinwheel of humid & longing.
all afternoon i watched his biceps.
sturdy muscles moving like covenant.
reel the line in again.
holding his breath, finger on the line
with a gentleness i wish he would give
to my throat. a father is a body
who searches elsewhere while you search
for him. hunting in the woods for elk.
pointing a bow & arrow at a deer's stare.
sifting in the lake
for trout. trout's blushing sides
& speckled heart. then, me
sitting on the blue cooler
& trying to identify birds as they darted
from branch to branch above.
cardinal. cat bird. crow. a feather
touching the lake's surface.
bag of potato rolls for bait.
him, waving to me. branishing a hook
& asking me to add a new lure.
to be drawn from the darkness
by a mistake. his callous hands around
fishing rod's meager handle.
why could he never claim me
like this? like urgent & "get the bucket"
& salvation & the hook through skin.
birds flushing in our commotion.
fish in the cooler shuttering
for the cool wet of his life.
a son, just like me: wet & wayward
beyond the reeds.