It’s been quiet around here, mainly because my off-line life has been anything but. Just a quick one tonight: The long-promised group shot of the intrepid trout fishermen from our trip to Colorado. From left to right, it’s Sasquatch, the Kid, Cowboy Bob, and the Buddha. Why the Buddha? Because he smiles often and says little; you rarely know what he’s thinking, but when he speaks, it’s important. Always.
Here’s the first complete draft of the poem I was percolating from our trip to the mountains. I used to have a helluva imagination as a kid, and I passed it on to my oldest. I learned, on this trip, that my old fears have been replaced by new ones …
I don’t usually try so hard for consistent rhythm or rhyme, but the minutes that night were marked by his rhythmic breathing, punctuated by odd pauses, sighs, and snorts that kept me on edge every second. You parents of infants know the sensation of checking to see that your baby’s still breathing? This was sort of like that, but with a big kid.
he’s softly snoring now, his vapor breath
between a rumble and a purr – i lie
awake to hear the elk, who, scenting death,
chirp warnings from the frosty meadows high
above his dreams
oblivious to all that crawls or flies.
he stirs; his snoring falters, stops, resumes –
the sound recalling predatory fears
he shared in fevered whispers in the gloom
as evening’s silent minutes turned to years
he sees the bear
more baleful black than night through frightened tears.
imagination is a fearsome glass
that magnifies the thought to more than real –
the never and unlikely come to pass
as blood flows less to thought and more to feel
and every noise
becomes as Death, their living breath to steal.
i reassure him – tell him his old man
is bigger and as hairy as the bear.
he laughs to think of me, my knife in hand,
against his nightmare, in my underwear
his breathing slows
to sleep with me awake, and none to share
save wary elk and creaking mountain pines,
his steady breathing, my quicksilver thoughts –
it’s cold tonight; the wind begins to whine
the tent begins to strain against the knots
i touch his hair
to find him peaceful, and me, overwrought.
throughout the night i wake and check and fret
and ask, “are you alright?” and “are you cold?”
i knew the risks, out here, of getting wet
but not the cares of young men getting old
a thumping heart,
i start –
a father’s fears writ long-hand and unrolled.
and so it goes, ’til every worry’s spent
and to the east the starry sky turns pale
and proof of life is dripping from the tent,
each drop a slow, translucent, shimmering snail …
a bear-like yawn
he wakes fish-hungry; says, “let’s hit the trail.”
29 sep 07
So I thought I’d give words a rest and share a few photos from our mountain excursion with our good friend Cowboy Bob, while we’re on the topic.
That’s Jinglebob himself, and a shaggy varmint we’ll call The Kid. I hadn’t realize Bob hadn’t spent much time in this country; his head was turning every which way, trying to take everything in, and he kept shouting “Oohs” and “Aahs” and various expletives, whic was nerve-wracking, since he was driving, too …
The only elk we saw in all of Colorado was this beautiful bull in Estes State Park, comfortably chewing his cud and enjoying his protected status. My dad, uncle, cousin, and a family friend had were hunting elk with black powder rifles south of here – but Bob, the Kid, and I were seeking trout.
We tried fly-fishing and casting spinners and spoons in the Colorado River for a couple of days, to no avail. On the way to the river one day we looked down into the valley to see this train snaking through a stone archway!
On the last day of fishing, we found it: a quiet mountain lake stocked with cutbows – a rainbow/cutthroat cross, I’m guessing. We fished with with worms, spinners, and a jar of salmon eggs a couple of other fishermen left for us. The Kid caught the biggest (and the smallest – poor little thing bit off more than he could chew), and the group caught 13 in all. Pan-fried with salt and lemon-pepper, they were delicious!
I’ll try to post a group shot, but I need to check with our other intrepid fisherman (and his folks) to be sure it’s alright.