Fishing for something deeper

This time of year, the lake is mine alone.

So are the woods. The trees have only buds,

so sunlight fingers reach the forest floor

soon after they unfold a creamy hand

above the eastern hill. The grains of ice

that form at night on twigs and leaves of grass

reflect the light and glitter as they melt.

In windless hours, the scent of rich, wet soil

is strong, the fresh air trembles with the life

and power straining for release, and I

am filled, rekindled, set afire by one

exquisite draw of breath. (The darker hours

are, if I’m up in time to see them, crisp

and brittle tokens of the frigid hold

from which the warming Earth is breaking free.)

This time of year, canoes make different sounds

when gliding in the water; paddles seem

to make no sound at all. This time of year,

my casting line floats through the morning mist

and drops the heavy lure with little more

disturbance than a whisper. When the sun

is high enough to lift the fog, I stop

to sip the black and steaming coffee from

the Thermos lid. It’s then I realize that

I’ve yet to get a bite, and that my mind

has been on other men who loved this time

of year. It’s then I realize that my rod

and reel are tools to reach beyond myself.

By going where they went, by doing what

they did, by knowing what they loved, I try

to draw them near. I hope to hold them here.

I put the lid back on the coffee, swing

the bow toward a likely shoreline knot

of roots and lift my rod. This time of year,

I fish for something deeper, sweeter. This time

of year, the lake is overrun by one.