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Fishing With My Father


by Perie Longo

He always took me with him out in the boat
on those long northern summer nights
and I loved it, not the sitting for hours
under all the many moons and showy red lights,
but the going—the creak of oars in the locks
like entering an attic of silence
where no one could reach us,
water beads lined up on the edge of the oar
like a string of pearls before they dripped back
into the liquid mirror that held us all. I realize now
how many poems I thought up but never noted
in those hours while we stared the bobber down
praying for a catch. I used to play games to pass the time,
for it was not the fishing that pleased me
but being with my father
in his joy. If I blinked my eyes thirty-nine times,
on the fortieth a muske would strike, that fish
my father’s dream he took to heaven I think.
When I held his arm at his passing,
clung to his hand like no fish ever had,
he let go and I slipped off, like that.
If I blink thirty-nine times, on the fortieth
maybe I’ll catch a glimpse of him.



Published in California State Poetry Quarterly, Fall, 1998;
Anthology titled “Fishing With My Father,” Penguin Press, 2005;

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