JUDGING DISTANCE

Posted by | August 13, 2011 | On the water, Poetry | 7 Comments

Ten foot kayak in eight feet of water.
Settled into the glass between a field
of lily pads and a line of flooded pine stumps—
trees that were a century old when the river
called them home a century ago, their twisted roots
unsettling sculptures patrolled
by fat bass and three foot pike.
What light there is comes from a waning half moon
ducking in and out of slow clouds.
My pipe smoke drifts in minor imitation.

A light is visible a quarter mile down river
beyond The Narrows. A dull illumination moving
like approaching headlights from the far side of a hill.
Closer. Closer until a beam rounds the point,
a boat spotlighting its way back from Cranberry Lake,
the erratic left right left swing seeking
submerged stumps and Adirondack boulders
just beyond the red and green channel markers,
leviathans in their eternal wait, scarred
with the silver orange white blue yellow of the errant.

Between small windows of moonlight, I’ve been casting
blind. My line, fly, the water, lily pads, stumps, shoreline
swallowed whole. Forty feet of line off my reel waiting
on the surface next to me. False casts paying out enough
until the right weight registers with my fingertips
and my rod hand, slight whistle-swish of the rod and line
as it unrolls in its flight, the fly landing noisily somewhere
in front of me. Impatience is the only obstruction in the dark.
There’s no rush, only the blind eternity of weight and timing.
In the now rising fog, the boat leaves the channel for it’s dock.


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