The way we fished for bullheads
was simple: hook, line, bobber,
cane pole and worm.
The murky, brown water of Root River
is where they hid
and waited our return.
The bobber was red & white.
At the first bite it danced then ran,
before going under—and I knew
that if it stayed under the fish
was on. Hooking them (they almost
always swallowed the bait)
was one thing, getting the hook
out without getting hooked oneself
on their lateral and frontal barbs
was quite another. That was
the solitary fishing
that few enjoyed as much as me.
I didn't understand then what
I needed in equal parts was
excitement, activity and adventure—
and more important than any
of these, solitude, in which my
being could be nourished
in silence. That silence
in which the imagination,
unbidden, comes to life.
Fishing alone brought
all of this together,
because it included living
beings, the mystery of life
from another realm that I could
pursue with my body my
imagination and my mind,
marveling at what I found,
not knowing what any of it could mean
or did mean, or would mean,
as I slowly moved
through the opening days of my life
"The River" by David Kherdian, from Nearer the Heart. © Taderon Press, 2006.(buy now)
(The "we" in this poem could have been Rush Gordon, my grandmother's handyman, grabbing the cane poles outside behind the laundry room, and walking me, as a little boy, down to Gran Gran's pond)