Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Three Old Fishermen

Three Old Fishermen

They were both fishing in the evening as the sun set to my back,

And I watched, trying to figure out for myself who was the more

Successful, that is if the definition of fishing success is actually

Catching fish because from my experience it may not be the case.

I never saw either catch any fish, though the pelican could have,

Being so far away, certainly been packing them away in his beak,

For it was made for him special to hold more than his belly can,

But I couldn’t see, and so, set my mind imagining his failure in

Tandem with the man to my right. I watched him for hours, sitting,

Beer in hand, line extended out into the surf, waiting, so patiently

For exactly zero bites. Though I didn’t know for sure, I imagine,

He was so patient because the rest of the world moved so fast,

This extended moment was a break from it all, to sit, with nothing

More to do, than to get to sit and wait, and that somehow the reel

And rod made it active enough to be considered doing something.

He couldn’t simply say, “Hey Honey, I’m going to the beach to do

Nothing,” and it had been years since heading to the beach to drink

Beer (as the only attraction) was an acceptable pastime, and fishing,

Therefore, was somehow something enough, and so there he was

Sitting and waiting. In the time I watched him, I never saw him cast,

Nor did I ever see him reel. In fact, I never saw him raise the rod,

Jiggle the line, or bring in the slack enough to check for a bite. No,

He just sat, and waited, taking occasional sips. He didn’t even drink

Aggressively, but rather seemed to wait for that, too, with no need

To rush the buzz. Like an Old Bull, sauntering slowly down a shady

Hill, knowing that what he sought awaited, so he must seek other fruit

Than fish. I wonder if the pelican shares such silly notions, for his

Fishing ritual, is at least as ancient as ours, if not more. Could he,

This avian symbol of insentient freedom, fish to escape, to pass time,

To rewind, to clear his mind, to seek and find, something sublime,

Like we do? His inherited ritual is much more active, gliding, this way,

Then that, just above surface of the water, when something flashing

Beneath, catches his eye, just enough, and he rises up, just enough.

He gets that perfect angle, and dives, disappearing for a moment,

A fish for a split second, before emerging back to the surface, floating,

Wings tucked, like a duck, perfectly still. Is there something to turning

Into what you want to catch, for a moment? We don’t do that, instead

We send our surrogate to lure our prey, a little wiggly worm, or squid,

Or some plastic fish replica, shiny and bright enough to hide a hook.

I wish I could have seen whether he hid some fish in his beak because

Then I would prove my preconceptions about birds, like other animal

Species, that they do not fish for fun, but for food. As fun as it looks,

The flying and the diving, alone and part of a V, it’s necessary to life,

And tied directly to surviving. Do we feel that when we fish, despite

The sport, the escape, or is the escape just that, an escape from life’s

Imposters, for a moment of the real? I don’t think my fisherman, beer

In hand, was seeking such things, but I was—when I headed to the beach

As the sun was sinking behind me, facing my shadow stretching ahead,

Watching a bird and a man fish, seeing with much more than my eyes,

Allowing my imagination to soar, to sit, to dive and to ponder—seeking

A sense of the sublime, and found it in a connected empathetic moment

Of place in my mind, and I will take it with me the next time I go fishing.