Fishing in the fog


I paddled my canoe along the shore

that morning, hearing catbirds call from the woods.

I frightened heron from their hiding place

among the cattails, chuckled when the swarm

of swallows skimmed the weedy water, clucked

at ducks who watched me at a wary length

and took applause from flocks of coots that sort

of flew, sort of ran, across the lake,

all slapping water as they went. Far off

and soft at first, there came a sound I found

so welcome that I paused, and strained to hear

it better: Fall’s first skein of geese arrived.

The first fall chill reminded me the time

for fishing here was running out. It made

me cast a little quicker. Soon, holes can

be cut through ice and good fish caught with tip-

ups, jigging poles and luck, but I will miss

the hiss of my canoe, the hum of my

old spinning reel, the warm and aimless talk

of easy friends. The yellow streaks of light

were climbing up the line where trees met sky

and let the day embrace the lake within

a gown of floating fog.

……………………. I stopped to watch

and, rocking gently on the waves

within the quiet mist, I thought of how

the birds must feel adrift on waves of wind,

concealed in clouds on unseen currents of air.

A pair of hawks, together keeping watch

from perches in trees along the water’s edge,

took wing to fly, to float, to fall in arcs

of silent yearning just above the lake.

With wings outstretched and heads hung low,

they fished in sweeping, ever wider turns.

Then talons dropped and, with a tilt of wings,

the birds would touch the lake and lift away

the tiny fish that nipped the tops of weeds.

It seemed they saw the shortened light, they felt

the autumn chill, and knew the things I thought

I knew while quickly casting from my canoe.