Fishing in July
by Nathan A. Baker

His smile still warms me in memory
As the two of us stand on riverbank fishing.
I was seventeen and trying to figure
The course for my life, and like the river
My thoughts were muddy and filled
With all manner of debris;
Trees that had fallen in earlier storms
Littered and blocked my vision
And choices made stood like bold dams
Blocking my progression,
But Matthew was so filled with life, so confident,
So joyous and filled with the hope of tomorrow;
And his smile still warms me in memory--

I watch him as he stands, poised
To cast his line into the Rainy River
His lean arms tan again the white of T-shirt.
He casts, then he reels, smiling with excitement
At the anticipation of the catch
His brown eyes like liquid pools brimming
With the answers to the mysteries of our world
He turns to me, as he is about to cast his line again
And smiles, his bait disappears below the water's
Surface. I cast my line, unsure of my technique,
And begin to retrieve my lure.
Again the smile--as if to say, "you're doing okay".
I cast my line again gaining confidence.
We wait, reel slowly, then wait some more.

Suddenly, Matthew's pole bends almost in two
And He yanks backward with a quickness
That sets the hook securely in the fish's mouth.
Again the smile-- exuding with the sureness
Of early pioneers that settled this river valley,
He lands the large grayish-blue catfish.
"Channel cat", he says, slipping the fish on a stringer
And then easing it back into the brown water.
"A few more like this and we'll have dinner."
And later we did eat fried fish and talk of things common.
Planting the seed of memory that would one day bear fruit
In the heart of me some thirty five years later
Fruit that would help to nourish my soul and help
To sustain my life, to give me the willingness to go on fishing
For whatever might lie beneath the surface of my troubled waters--
And His smile still warms me in memory.

Copyright 2021 by Red River Review. First Rights Reserved. All other rights revert to the authors.
No work may be reproduced or republished without the express written consent of the author.