Learning to Fish with My Mother
My mother stood at the ocean’s edge—
wearing an oversized tee shirt knotted at the waist.
Her rod and reel rested on her hip.
There was an elegance in her stance — with her tanned Rockette-
shaped legs, yet her auburn hair tied up in a scarf had the goofiness
of I Love Lucy. She was a vision of contradictions.
She taught me how to place the fishing rod on my hip,
feel the sway of the waves against the line and the tension of the current.
She taught me to wait for the fish’s pull. She said to stare into the distance but to never
lose the feel in your hands.
Bait the hook, cast out the line, feel the weight
break through the waves, sink, and settle on the bottom.
The water’s sparkle was soothing but the wait
and undertow around me, unsettling.
At sundown, Mother would hook her own bait of bourbon.
I would wait for the tug and then watch her thrash about, crash
into her own waves of weariness.
She hooked me too, as I tried to balance my small weight
against her monster pull.
She never taught me to cut the line.