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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