Jim O’Connor

By Randy Rush

The old man sits, all hunched astern.
His rod in hand, he starts to turn
Toward his tackle, neatly sorted.
With gnarled fingers, so contorted,
Grabs the object of deceit
He thinks will make his quest complete.
Arthritic hands begin to bind
The decoy to the braided line.
With grace he twists and tucks and ties,
And skill that surely does belie
The age behind the hands so worn.
Now done, anticipation born.
The anchor dropped, the spot selected,
His quarry mentally detected.
The rod is whipped, the lure sails
In flight along its vaulted trail
And lands upon the rippled surface.
Sinking now with angling purpose.
The lure jigged from where it lands
And skitters off of eel grass sands.
His heart beat quickens, eyes wide open.
As he cranks, there’s child-like hope in
Every turn of the spinner’s handle.
His chest now pounds as on the anvil.
Alas, no strike. He reels it in
And checks aloft to gauge the wind.
How could his cast caught naught but air?
For surely there must be fish out there.
He quickly snaps another cast
This one placed just as the last.
Now reaching in his fishing vest
He finds a pack of cigarettes,
Grabs one with two fingertips,
And places it between his lips.
Once lit, and tossed away the match,
He turns his thoughts toward his catch.
A firm but gentle tweak, and then
Retrieving of the bait begins.
He knows with no uncertain thought
That fish are begging to be caught.
The landing net lies at the ready.
The lure’s pace is sure and steady.
But as the bait is now approaching,
There is no hunter below encroaching.
Only one, above the surface
With rolling eyes, and smiles, and curses.
It’s not like this has never been.
It’s happened time and time again.
And so, the old man settles in.
He glances west as the sun begins
To dive beneath the distant hill.
Determined with a hardened will
He’s bent on fishing up the moon
Which promises to be risen soon.

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