Saturday, February 14, 2009

Chasing Rainbows

Every now and then I'll see him.

The sun will be just right

flaring through the trees,

diffusing the shadows,

bouncing glare from the water

in a cascade of sparkles.

He'll be creekside, crouching,

knees bent and sitting low,

his fly rod lying across his thighs,

his head leaning forward, eyes intent,

peering into the fast moving water.

Sometimes, chasing rainbows with my children

I pause, looking downstream

and I see him hunkered in the shadows.

"There." I hear him say softly.

"There the big fish lie hiding.

There is where it takes skill

to tease a fish from its lair,

catch it on the tiniest of hooks

and work it through the riffles

to the shore, into the creel

and onto the dinner table."

Even when the sun is lost, swallowed by dark clouds

and the first thin raindrops of a coming storm

cause thousands of tiny circles

to ripple onto the water's surface,

even then when the forest is filled

with the silent clarity that precedes thunder,

I see him by the water,

jeans, blue work shirt and hunter's cap,

a tan fishing vest, cigarette dangling

from a hawkish face squinting

through horn-rimmed glasses.

I wish I could hold these moments

and look at him closely, to see those strong hands,

the stubbled face, the mischievous grin

and piercing eyes again.

But, as with all visions, it seems,

any attempt at seeing clearly, focusing,

and it's gone.

Still, when I take my children

chasing rainbows along the stream

I'll catch a fleeting glimpse

of a short, wiry man crouching creekside,

and I point, saying softly,

"There. There is where the big fish

lie hiding. Where it takes skill..."

And my son and daughter hear the voice

of the grandfather they never knew.

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