Learning to Fish
Sharp fins cut through blue green algae clouding Minnesota waters.
Dad’s attempt to catch my attention and some sunnies on the same day.
More than anything the white mealworms with their little sections of larval bodies were what I wanted.
Ma sunning herself on a chair. Dad got out the new rods.
A ten-gallon bucket right behind him in the sand.
Me mouthing new names for the larva, saying prayers that fish would not eat my friends.
“They’re for the fish to eat.”
“Not for you.”
Dad cast off his reel and hooked the bucket.
His toothy white grin meant this fishing faux pas be kept a secret.
The little cobalt blue and white bobber dipped beneath then re-emerged.
Dad wrapped his arms around mine to pull the Big One.
Once out of the water the fish did the hula as dad grasped its little body.
“You JERK!” Red liquid now appeared amid the glistening green and grey scales.
In the center of my father’s calloused hand a fresh cut from the fish’s razor fins.
He slid into the driver’s seat of the small red car; we were just a year out of high school. His hands fumbled through coat pockets searching, his face turning red as he looked away. From his breast pocket a white folded scrap of paper. “One more thing,” handing me the note. This must have been the kind of letter that says something that can not be spoken, a truth that means nothing will ever be the same. In boyish handwriting a simple message.
Snow encompassed us; the flakes danced as he looked up at me in the ice-covered tree. He walked across the pond first; unsure of the ice, I timidly followed sliding on my boots along the way, just like the past ten years I always followed him into the unknown. His gloved hands pulled me up into the large tree, a secure spot out of the snow-fall; he placed me up on a perch like a bird higher on a branch. His sky-colored eyes looked at what he now clutched, a deep indigo stone with diamonds like ice on a band of white gold, just like the winter around us.