CATCH AND RELEASE
When they finished putting the water pipeline in,
they left the spool behind. It was late summer
when I found it in the woods, Kodiak-fat,
packed with green acorns that rattled
when we woke it from the bush.
That summer the rains never left, inch
by inch the river rose, until it covered the planks
I built below the bridge to fish; my brothers and I
tried for Master Angler that year, but all we caught
in our creek were bullheads—their grandfather
faces grinning as we threw them back.
It was the summer when Chase
built his floating wagon, a barrel
on either side, setting sail with the waters high,
waving as we took pictures, waving until the binding
snapped and the barrels floated away.
We took the spool from the bush, moved it
into the clearing where a house used to be
before the big flood, much more memorable
than these late summer rains.
We wore down the long grass rolling
on the spool like log drivers
in that NFB short of an old Canadian song,
where, at the bend in the river,
real men suddenly become
FATHER AND SON. BRIGHT SUNSHINE AND SILHOUETTES.
Dad is on the Waldner’s roof, hand
in the chimney, feeding cable
down to the basement where my ear
is pressed up to the brick fireplace listening
for some tick, rasp, or cable-clink,
but it is so hard to keep shaft sounds
separate from the noise within:
my tongue, my jaw, my teeth.
Dad is no strange man to heights
he climbed often in his youth, raising
antenna towers on concrete plants
(not flowers) but these beanstalks, while no giants,
held fear. Fear came after one man fell
to his death: Dad’s friend, harness-less.
He witnessed it, played Daedalus.
The former man found dead. A loss.
Dad and I, sunshine and silhouettes.
May I be more Icarus than Oedipus,
for Freud’s friend was always blind
and early did his father wrong. I find
the former acted best: he waxed poetic
when he dropped, but always sought
to please his older man. A good son
sees his source of light and can stare.
When young men emerge from caves
or basements, they think their shadows
might be gone. In light, all will find
that they themselves are the shades,
shadows of one form, the Father:
not a wily trickster, not a hero, but good
and beautiful because he’ll show the son
life, without ever giving birth.
Adam Kroeker has an M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Manitoba. His work has been published in Rhubarb and The Red River Review. He was the winner of a 2012 Firebird Poetry prize. He is currently living in Winnipeg and working in the urban design field.