Winter's over and a girl's rowed out
on the lake to fish with her father.
Easy as ever, though he's been dead
nearly fifty years – the boat's a gray feather
afloat near the shore. It's her morning walk,
and she's the mother of two grown men.
Dad's letting her pull the oars
while he again sets a worm on each hook.
Once more, he's going to tell her,
in that soft rumble like an echo of itself,
how too much pull can tear a good set
right through the creature's lip; too little
and it's off the hook, in spite of the barb.
She lets the memory into her body
afresh, the way we let wind or morning light
in through our skin – she lets it settle
the nerves and tendons of wrist and hand,
where firm and gently have lived
since the first time, his palms
enclosing her fingers on reel and cork grip,
transmitting the feel of allowing
the trout its last dance as it splashes
and tires, slack's taken up
as it flashes like a sliver of dawn
closer to gunnel and net, till it can't
writhe any longer against being gone
from this world. The feather skids up
and shivers against the black gravel edge
of the earth where a woman knows she loses
her men. Even before
it began, with her father's great arms
around her as they let a life run
on its shining final line – even then,
the oars at ease in their cradling locks,
the company of a few gulls bobbing
on the mild chaos of crisscross ripples,
in the lightest dusting of breeze,
out in the water's middle, a warm spring
morning, she was a little afraid,
knowing, how, easy as ever,
the seasons, gentle and firm, one morning
after another, would reel them all in.
First appeared in Off the Coast – Summer 2013
Jed Myers was born in Philadelphia in 1952 to parents of Eastern European Jewish heritage. He studied Creative Writing with an emphasis in poetry at Tufts University, graduating in 1974, and went on, after medical training, to pursue a career in psychiatry. He settled in Seattle, where he and his wife raised three children. He kept writing poems, but did not begin to seek publication until the events of September 11th, 2001. Since that time, his work has been widely published, and for several years now he hosts the popular music-and-poetry open-mic cabaret NorthEndForum (now part of the Easy Speak Seattle alliance).
He maintains a solo therapy practice and teaches at the University of Washington.