The Wildness of Fishing
by Alan Birkelbach



There is a place I imagine where our bones are not washed as much.

Even now we probably do not think about it--
the language of angels--but later,
maybe in the judgment of night

we may wonder what syllables
are used to measure us.
It is like standing in the river,

the line cast and then taut,
waiting, the current eddying around us;
we can see, downstream, our swirling traces.

How will, we say, how will anyone know
that here I took a breath, or shifted my feet
on slippery stones, or tilted my hat from the sun?

It is what the river does, what the strange
appetite of love for all things, can do to us.
It gives us words to make us question.

The fishing rod will disappear in our hands,
and there will be no line, no sun, no river,
no downstream--just the memory of someone's lips

on a golden afternoon on a mountaintop,
and, afterwards, her hair falling across her eyes,
the lingering half-smile.

There, there is where we are going,
where there is no more scouring.
Only a sure stepping into a river,
our mouths full of singing, a sweet glossolalia.





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