Logistics of fishing, #217

The pond across the street,
postcard and perfect
fishin’ hole for nostalgia.
From it’s murky top
where peepers peeped
their summer song
on scummy algae,
where we would skip
rocks across
a mythic echo, an echo
rose as we grew,
the old tale
of the country boy,
whistling as he walks,
straw in his jaw,
jeans cut, sitting
on the shore fishing
for a gullible fin,
his feet splashing
the stagnant water
that smelled more
and more like feet,
atop the stories
and old tales,
wading like lilies
and watching the rings
of effect roll on
over the carp, rock bass,
the great imagined
whiskered catfish, hope
for sunnies to bite
out of temptation
or desperation,
in earnest for the worms
he strung through
with sharp hooks after
digging them up earlier.

His feet still dirty
after leaving home
this morning. If you
have the patience
to sense the wind,
listen. You can hear
a rumbling sound,
a muttering child,
Tom Sawyer’s lament
in false pride
and narration
for having to paint,
or what passes
for painting
the white picket fence,
in his training
for politics
trying to rope
anyone he can find,
friend or foe,
into doing it
for him so he
may escape,
so he may fish too.

In our town, our
neck of the woods
that’s not how it was.

For us to tackle
the pond, we’d meet
for weeks setting
the hooks, set
a foot on the long
sloping grass, a neighbor
whom we never saw’s
yard that made the shore.

As if planning
for an invasion,
we stopped at K-Mart
after peering through
the Kabela’s catalog,
and begged our mothers
to provide the needed
accouterments, to pay
for a new reel,
Shimano or Daiwa,
nothing store branded,
for a thousand yards
of eighty pound test line
built for Walleye,
for a pole to go with
the reel, sold separate,
and shiny new hooks,
kind sold in threes
and built for pulling Shad
out of the Hudson
and award winning bass
from the Great Lakes.

Once we had the gear,
camo pants and all,
bandanas and face paint,
then the bait. And we,
in our attempts
to look cool and proud
would not settle for
what we could find
in front of us,
the slimy old worms,
thin like grandfathers
in nursing homes
we could uncover
for cheap, for
free from
any old pile
or anthill after
a rainstorm, any mound
of dirt in our yard.

Call us selfish
or spoiled babies,
blame it on cable,
progress or good
addictive advertising,
Bassmasters Classics,
rows and rows of stuff
at Jamesway,
Lake Okeechobee,
Evinrude motors,
Rick Clunn, even
blame the fish. We needed
to own and collect
like artifacts
the biggest tackle,
most complete set
of hues and shades,
shapes and colors
a double fold out
box and a complete
set of poppers, jiggs
for all manner of fish,
all depths of water,
for all temperatures,
regions, humidity,
for every specie
and situation.

We stopped on the way
home to purchase
night crawlers grown fat
on a special blend
of fertilizer and dirt,
mated for this task.
Monday through Friday
we would buy,
so on Saturdays
at the crack of dawn
and armed to the teeth
with our parents cash
traded in for trinkets,
the pitiful results
in hand, we would march
like commandoes
or special forces
cross the street to find
a good spot, a great
wind, and discover
our poles were able
to cast a lure
the whole way
cross the width
of the pond, landing
on the opposite shore
of the pond, the hooks
we purchased
for ocean goers
too big for the fish
found here, the tiny
tiny mouthed fish
to bite, the line, thick
and unbreakable
like chain, pulling
up the flailing
fish tugging against
the few sunnies
with mouth enough to bite
was no challenge. We
would wait for hours
for such a fish,
would laugh and walk
instead down the hill
to the river to fish
for shad and their roe.

But not for me,
so on a sick day
faked, hid and refreshed
with a plan, home
from school, while all
the others were students,
minions of progress,
the other children
taking an every Wednesday
spelling test, locked
in the classrooms
of their future wealth
and ignorance,
I reached up, broke
off a branch
to lean backwards
from one of the trees
tore off its leaves,
ran a bit of line
around the end, tied
on a baby hook
and a sickly worm
and sat with the line
between my feet, stuck
into the water’s
edge for a nibble.

Little did I know
I had no hope left
of catching a thing from
that dead pond, the water
our neglect was killing.

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