A Fisherman Changes His Mind
By L D Sledge
September 17, 2010
In my youth the still deep waters
Of a bay, a lake a creek
Tugged me to explore, to wonder and thrill at what
monstrous creatures lurked below the sunken logs
and deep, dark holes
yearning to see the sudden dip of the end of my pole
feel the tug on my line as I fought to bring him up and
see him, feel his living flipping slippiness in my hands,
my trophy my joy at having won not my dinner but
something more visceral and ancient in my blood.
Now that I am longer in the tooth I pass those placid ponds,
Or that shining bay and think of those old ones
Those who have seen days like mine,
Who have passed the days of fight
Whom I now salute as I pass and smile
And wish them well in declining years
Who deserve to lay low and sleep safe in their warm deep
And dream of beautiful fish
As I dream of girls beyond my reach.
A Woodcutter Changes His Mind
When I was young, I cut the bigger, older trees for firewood, the ones
with heart rot, dead and broken branches, the crippled and deformed
ones, because, I reasoned, they were going to fall soon anyway, and
therefore, I should give the younger trees more light and room to grow.
Now I'm older and I cut the younger, strong and sturdy, solid
and beautiful trees, and I let the older ones have a few more years
of light and water and leaf in the forest they have known so long.
Soon enough they will be prostrate on the ground.
"The Woodcutter Changes His Mind" by David Budbill, from While We've Still Got Feet: New Poems. © Copper Canyon Press, 2005. Reprinted without permission.
(I am a subscriber and admirer of The Writer's Almanac, by Garrison Keillor of The Prairie Home Companion. I receive the Almanac daily, which contains a poem and a bio of some artists or celebrated historical character. This morning, September 17, 2010, I felt a resonance with the poem about the woodcutter, for I once was a hunter and zealous fisherman, and I no longer hunt for I see no sense in killing any creature that contains life unless it is contra-survival such as flies or roaches or termites or rats, and have lost the burning desire to catch the biggest catfish or bass in the lake. So I wrote my poem about the fisherman changing his mind.
The image of the fish is by James Christenson, fantasy artist.