The rivers still run
Through my mind
As one violent force:
Mira; Margoree; Miramichi;
St. Mary’s; Mersey-
When the days became short and cold
And Septembers’ rain made the rivers rise,
The Salmon began their Fall Run.
Before sunrise my mother crept
Into my room,
Shook my shoulders and whispered-
My father, focused, drove in silence
Sipping instant coffee from a stainless steel
We’d march our gear and tackle
Through marshy fields,
Whipping branches and thorns,
Sliding down muddy banks so steep
I clung to a rope hung from a tree
My hands burned as raw
As if I’d grabbed a boiling pot.
“This is my river”,
Casting his line into the distance-
Like a ringmasters whip.
“Casting is all in the wrist”.
I fill the space beside him,
Trying to keep my feet under me.
Casting with too much line and too little wrist.
“It’s like this”,
He says, as the line cracks
Patterned like a prawn,
The fine feathers from
His handcrafted fly:
Hot Orange Seal’s Fur;
Shimmer near the opposite shore.
I could never tell him
My wrist was sore,
My legs cold and aching
From the constant pressure.
With a splash,
His rod bends sharply.
The line howls, and with a quick
Jerk, he sets the hook.
The small fish is no match for him-
But, admiring its potential,
He sets it free.
“Maybe next time he’ll be stronger” he says,
Looking back at me.
— Robert Greenough