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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Outdoor writing contest: Alive

Outdoor writing contest: Alive (Molly Quinn / The Spokesman-Review)
Outdoor writing contest: Alive (Molly Quinn / The Spokesman-Review)
By Teresa Johnson Sophomore at The Community School

Among the twisted oaks I walk,

Traversing a trail off the beaten path;

As I wander, I amiably talk –

and the trees whisper back.

Pale ribbons streak through branches –

the lone survivors of avalanches.

Splintered twigs cling to my pole and sandals;

I watch my footing and grip the handle.

“Lisha!” my father calls, and I begin to run,

Dancing through ribbons and leaves;

I skid to a halt at the riverbank,

Where Dad’s in up to his knees.

In fifteen years, I’ve lived enough,

To know my way around;

Still, my breath is stolen swift,

As nameless wonders abound.

Miles of sapphire silk ripple,

Beneath a hidden jewel, whose flaxen light,

Shames the luster of the autumn leaves –

even amidst the gloom of twilight.

An emerald blanket winds over the horizon,

Gleams grizzled ruby in the coming dawn;

Insignificance overwhelms me as I gaze, transfixed –

I am but a pawn.

I test the current, cold as ice,

Dip in my toes, wade as far as I dare;

Ignoring the complaints of my indignant ankles,

I treasure this gift of time well-shared.

“Lisha,” my dad beckons me over,

Callused hands enveloping mine;

Fuzzy eyebrows vanish in a wide-brimmed hat,

Amusement gleaming in indigo eyes.

He helps me bait my lure, and then –

with careless ease and veteran grace,

He casts his line, smile sublime,

A child’s delight upon his face.

By comparison, my throws are fickle,

From trembling hands I’ve grown to hate,

My father laughs at my indignation –

“Don’t worry, Lisha … the fish will wait.”

One more time … I toss the line,

A silken rainbow like a spider’s thread;

The lure sinks under, the rainbow draws taut,

Worm devoured by a flash of red.

“Steady, Lisha!” my father warns,

Not helping my lack of coordination;

With a lurch, I reel it in –

A salmon flopping with agitation.

“Not bad,” Dad admires my catch,

Sleek and thrashing, eyes opals of panic;

I swallow hard, already uneasy,

“Um … do we have to kill it?”

My father smiles, understanding –

removes the hook with surprising care,

“Back you go,” he remarks, and throws –

my hefty chum to its sapphire lair.

We hang around till my toes go numb,

and my neck drips with perspiration;

The jewel has risen; overhead, it crawls,

Creeping with fiery anticipation.

My father glimpses the sky and shoulders his bag,

Retrieves his lure with a sudden heave,

We exchange a look, speak without words;

Time to leave.

As we traipse through the woods, I think of my fish,

Ruby scales rippling as it plunged into a dive,

I breathe in deep, mind at ease;

I’m glad to be alive.

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