I fish for words
To say what I fish for,
I have caught little pan fish flashing sunlight
(yellow perch, crappies, blue-gills),
Lighthearted reeled them in,
Filed them on stringers on the shore.
A nice mess, we called them,
And ate with our fingers, laughing.
Once, dreaming of fish in far-off waters,
I hooked a two-foot carp in Michigan,
On nylon line so fine
A fellow-fisher shook his head:
“He’ll break it, sure; he’ll roll on it and get away.”
A quarter-hour it took to bring him in;
Back-and-forth toward my net,
Syllable by syllable I let him have his way
Till he lay flopping on the grass-
Beside no other, himself enough in size:
He fed the three of us (each differently)
New strategies of hook, leader, line, and rod.
Working well, I am a deep-water man,
A “Daredevil” silver wobbler
My lure for lake trout in midsummer.
Oh, I have tried the moon, thermometers-
The bait and time and place all by the rule-
Fishing for the masterpiece,
The imperial muskellunge in Minnesota,
The peerless pike in Canada.
I have propped a well-thumbed book
Against the butt of my favorite rod
And fished from my heart.
Yet, for my labors,
All I have to show
Are tactics, lore-
So little I know
Of that pea-sized brain I am casting for,
To think it could swim
With the phantom-words
That lure me to this shore.