When the first mosquito bites the day,
there is room here next to me. Lend a pole
I’ll fish with you and watch the lines
you’re looking for. While we wait for fish to hit,
we’ll share the tales that grow in length and breadth
like loaves and fishes, mounds of olives stuffed with rinds.
Where the fish you say are feeding, the brook bends
a backwater bar. A dillied hook tugs against
the sluggish current two feet above a bottom
bouncing rig. When a jumper strikes
a damselfly, ripples spread and catch the sun.
We learn their genus: sunfish, cichlid, perch,
and their names: white, yellow, black
or striped, or speckled peacock bass.
You draw the line with turquoise toes.
They’re cold and wet, they rake my sole.
No need to size this fish against the others.
If threaded flies are sporting, at least we feed
the fish who take our barb, whose lip we pierce.
Our creel empty or maybe not. We keep
a deep throat ripped, gills torn, to clean
and fry in butter in a skillet over open fire.
Immerse your hands. Back out or snip the hook.
Submerge his creamy cold-blooded belly
below the shady bank and point him upstream,
until strength and breath regained, he swims away,
* * *
A cleaver through warm butter twice its length,
a new chain foams an oak. A buried acorn,
once stowed away, immobile still. You cough
sawdust, shaved curls and chips. Your shoulders use
the gentle slope against the impaled trunk.
Give before your joints unravel, before
your boots melt the snow encrusted grass.
Set wedges in the cracks. One hand slides up
then down the ashen handle. The wood fights
and grabs a life already lost. The pitch
sweetens with each swing. Then pops: a ping
pong ball smashes basement walls.
Raspberry brambles bleed your arm and you
avoid the white oak’s lash. I count almost
seventy rings. Oaks topple from the weight
of wind or early snow on wide green hands.
A tree uproots and missed the house. A tree
exposed stands posed to face the next.
* * *
The squirrels share my mat. We move acorns from
their fallen place to where fresh shoots feed deer. We save
the lawn from oaks. The work is daily, done in parts.
Plant soles. Spread weight on ball and heel. Feel the ground
push up your calves and thighs through clouds whiting blue
above. The acorns, countably infinite, wait.
You turn and lunge, smell bruised rye, stretch and pick. Pivot
back foot, extend arms—warrior two. Weight forward flow
to warrior three. Reach high. Align hip—open heart.
Planes spark on traffic hold. You lower trailing leg
bend stretch and pick, release neck, crown to zested fescue.
Breathe between vertebrae. With fingernails,
pry acorns loose and smell the gumbo. Squirrels chirp
and clap their nuts. A siren flees the valley. Trucks
are calmed by miles of trees. And jays—always jays.
A woman works the mat beside you. Hear her breath.
Her warmth radiates. Your hands graze when you wrap
the other knee on top and turn her way. Allow
your eyes to linger. Spandex and cotton don’t hide
her body. Nape to breasts move with her heart and lungs,
perfumed and pink. It takes all season. Rake the leaves.
Some acorns root. They will mature in thirty years,
then fill. The taproot fetal, snug by shale.