Time after time, my father cornered his tools.

His hands sweated; he palmed his dreams

That cash would roll from his pockets to a sock

In a bureau:  he did not trust banks.

He would shake in frantic poses poles

He cut from Beaver Dam, bamboo he rigged

With lead-lines to fish the bottom with his hands;

A stopper from a medicine bottle

For my pole, that little cork dipped in paint

Red as my Radio Flyer wagon.

We’d trudge to the Rock Hole on Middle Creek,

A father and son duo, singing all the way,

 “Fishy, fishy, in the running brook,

Come and bite my little hook,”

Stuff like that:  “I will clean you like a man;

Mama will fry you in a pan,”

The life of the farmer-father-son, complete,

For I know now that’s what he liked,

Water in his blue eyes floating

Monofilaments for bottom-feeders,

Horse-fish, channel-cat, horny-head, eel.

I would hang a pumpkinseed,

Pull too hard and get tangled up in a sycamore.

He would laugh, lean way back, as if to learn

More of my embarrassment,

Till one day, when I was grown,

Dozers came in yellow blends of diesel,

Plenty of groans and crunches of tracks

Not made for fisherman and son.

Result:  a cul-de-sac at our Rock Hole.

The air was thick and black, smoke’s face of spades.

The rippling water there muddied

Time, my father’s sight a glimmed and watery

Patch in pools now of lily pads

Beside his grave at Rehobeth Church,

The lifting logs a roll in Middle Creek,

His hands clutching for mine around my pen.

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