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Fishing Lesson

ISSUE:  Winter 2005

From a different country, I write to tell you
the sun has lowered only an inch in the hickory.

Cowbirds no longer divebomb groundhogs
eating clover between Christmas trees.

Frogs no longer tune their bull horns over tadpoles
wriggling like black sperm in shallows.

Swallows that once flicked at gnats like switchblades,
sit on telephone wires, reading the wind.

If you return, you will hear cicadas chirr
high-pitched mantras in cattails, dragonflies

flick prayer wheels over water lilies, green
ghosts of bass sip June bugs from duckweed.

Light, bent by waves, still scrawls
your name in Arabic on silt.

A snapper still breast-strokes toward sand,
clawing your daredevil from its beak.

You said its shell was an American helmet,
its tongue a pink trigger.

Now, barely riffling the sun’s embers,
a painted turtle treads water, waiting for alders

to lay down their leaves, waiting for the zero months
to tuck it beneath the pond’s soft center.


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