They understood one another then, on river’s bank.
Their rods held like diviners, green water and mud a comfort,
fish darting –savvy but still taking bait
now and then, like she did, gravitating
to his surprising presence.
She’d glance over, make sure he was still there,
and satisfaction filled her like dessert.
They always let the fish go, in the end;
it was the coaxing and waiting, respecting
both fish and fishers, words forgotten or benign
under the brave heat of early summer sun,
the lazy slap of water at ankles, faces steaming
as they stood with hum-buzzing insects and
sashaying treetops, air slipping about flush of wings.
It was freedom to be there, herself with him,
no defenses, either one–even a child knows
how to hide inside loneliness, behind lowered eyes–
and his willingness to be there, close enough.
They could do nothing more; it was all that counted.
Then one day he said
When I was your age no one cared to take
me fishing–just want you to know you have a place.
Don’t forget, muppet,
you have a place. Here. Anywhere.
And even after flick of rod and toss
of line was shared no more–
after he had gone sick, then just gone
and she was nobody’s muppet,
his words carried her, it was the shining promise
and reward at the end of every effort,
cause for another hour’s worth of hope.