Chittenango

The engine cuts,
I rip my legs from hot leather and leap
out the open truck door.
Trip, and then am caught, by callused and tanned hands.
Daddy says, “I’ll just throw a few casts.”
He grabs a styrofoam box and two rods,
one made for babies who bait-fish
and the other for men who catch real suckers with pretend bugs.
Since the worms sicken me Daddy baits my line
and when he pulls in his catch,
he gives it back to the river so I don’t cry for it.
Reaching for roots
I stumble down a rusted out bridge,
lined with purple bellflowers and broken maple branches.
We look for where the water breathes
deep and soft.
He shows me
the entrance to the current,
I climb in, toes and eyes to white swirls above,
ears to blue swirls below,
and ride down.
Above I see line rising,
curling, licking
the surface of the Chittenango on its shining pieces
where sunlight warms the backs of fighting crayfish.
In this moment,
his hair is honey dripping
his casts form with the river
and his stories are unsaturated
by Stretton’s dry gin or the burn of a years-long winter.
And then it passes through
the current, into the Chittenango.

— Abigail Coryell

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