I took my son fishing
down on Slippery Lake Bridge.
It's a wooden bridge with rough-cut timbers,
smoothed on the edges by all the behinds that have sat
and all the legs that have dangled.
I remember being there as a child.
I remember my uncle taking my arms
and swinging me out over the edge.
He was the kind of uncle that you were never quite sure
whether he would let go or not.
I remember a lesson I learned there as a boy.
So when my son asked me,
"Dad, why do they call it Slippery Lake Bridge? ...
I thought you said this was Old River."
A grin worked its way to my mouth,
"I did. And it is. But I'll tell you about that later...
for now, grab that bucket and go fetch us some water."
I pointed, and like a good son,
he went for a bucket of water.
I could tell he was confused about me withholding information,
and I fought the smile that wanted to surface.
It wouldn't do to go and give the lesson away
before it was learned.
I watched him tip-toe his way down the bank.
I watched him scoop up half a bucket of water.
I watched him turn and take two steps back up
before he slipped and fell in the mud.
He came back to me with more water on himself than in the bucket,
trying to wipe the mud from his clothes
but succeeding only in smearing it more.
He looked at me with a mixture of hurt and amusement,
"Dad, I think I know why they call it the Slippery Lake Bridge."
I laughed heartily as I clapped him on the back,
"It's a mighty slippery lake ... ain't it, son?"