by patricia wixon
It was July when you closed the front door
carrying your fishing rod and creel, angled hat
banded with dry flies, eager to fly to the mountain
lakes. Soon you’d be edging your way out in waders
so glazed with fish oil they could stand alone.
That night you’d fight to stay alive, not burned
and broken like your copilot, but in shock as your
organs consumed each other. You told the medic
what to give each child. For me, your bamboo pole
but it had already turned to ash.
In those childhood years, you’d bring home a creel
of cutthroat and fry their pink skins crisp.
Sometimes we’d peel sheets of sunburn from your
back, work to sunset in our Victory Garden,
help save tin foil wrappers for the War.
Now I cast a fly at a glint between the rocks, hear
your lessons as I watch the shadows, feel when
a strike sends line singing, feed, wind back a steady
take up. Leaves floating on the water collapse
like ash, linger, then slip beneath the surface.