A Father Takes His Daughter Fishing

Only once,

but it was enough.

He rowed out onto the blue-gray lake.

It was good to push off from the dock.

His arms were strong

that Saturday morning

but tired from the night shift

at the mill.

He rowed to the spot

where the fish were biting.

She sat in the bow

and told him stories.

Because he was listening,

she unraveled Anne of Green Gables

from the knotted skeins of her heart

and stretched out the swashbuckling

sword-brandishing of The Three Musketeers,

filling the small boat

till there was hardly room for the fish

that weren’t biting after all.

He listened to this daughter

and wondered where the fish had gone.

The sun is too high in the sky, he thought,

the fish are resting in the cool water

at the bottom of the lake.

You have quite an imagination, he said.

I worry about her, he was thinking.

How will she ever learn to catch a fish?

. . . just as she hooked a trout

and jerked the pole

and the obliging fish

flew through the summer air

and flopped at their feet in the skiff.

And she never forgot

that he smiled,

held the slippery prize,

gently drew the hook from its lip

. . . and threw it back in the water.

So small, he told her.

We should let it live.

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