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 When three, he fished these lakes,
Curled sleeping on a lip of rock,
Crib blankets tucked from ants and fishbone flies,
Twitching as the strike of bass and snarling reel
Uncoiled my shouts not quit
Till he jerked blinking up on all-fours,
Swaying with the winking leaves.
Strong awake, he shook his cane pole like a spoon And dipped among the wagging perch Till, tired, he drew his silver rubber blade And poked the winding fins that tugged our string, Or sprayed the dimpling minnows with his plastic gun, Or, rainstruck, squirmed to my armpit in the poncho.
Then years uncurled him, thinned him hard.
Now, far he cast his line into the wrinkled blue And easy toes a rock, reel on his thigh Till bone and crank cry out the strike He takes with manchild chuckles, cunning In his play of zigzag line and plunging silver.
Now fishing far from me, he strides through rain, shoulders A spiny ridge of pines, and disappears Near lakes that cannot be, while I must choose To go or stay: bring blanket, blade, and gun, Or stand a fisherman.

Poem by James A Emanuel
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