June 18, 2003

Gone Fishing

There is a plane slimmer than a molecule that separates worlds. Passing through that shimmering foil of liquid light is to slip down, drift down like a maple leaf in autumn, settling and sinking into murky mystery where anything can happen. Passing down below that terrible boundary that divides terrestrial from aquatic realities is to tether hands and mind to the terror and elation of the unknown, where a sudden jerk can pull a fisherman across dimensions of time, stir up even in the oldest of us a childhood thrill, each crank of the reel carrying the threat or promise of pulling in a creature unknown, a mermaid, a gilled genie, or an old shoe.

I always knew, when I reached those golden years when everything I wore would look old and worn and comfortable, like the old men I'd see down on Lake Purdy alone in wooden boats that were green like the water only where old paint held over blue, and barn red-- in those days of aged and indifferent ease, I'd be a fisherman full time. What better life could one imagine as a boy, growing up in Alabama surrounded by water, at every turn confronted pleasantly by that thin plane between the known and the liquid world of possibility.

Somewhere in the days when the world was too large to comprehend, an age when grownups knees were head high, and everything in a new life was over your head-- in some place, I remember high on a cinderblock wall a tangle of knobby-jointed cane poles hung up near the rafters, wrapped and twisted with thready lines, dark woven string, before the terrible deception of monofilament. I recall those cobwebby poles, a ringed coffee can of dark earth and wrigglers, and quill floaters on each line poised to write an up and down script like a telegraph key saying 'they have come!'-- poles held out over dark tepid water smelling of Spirogyra on an Alabama summer day.

I remember the drooping tips of cane poles held inattentively by young hands over still water, watching tiny sunfish, facedown watching them through the slats in the pier, jeweled slivers levitating lazily in shafts of light under their dark striped sky. The underwater world was a child's story self-told, telling of a place in my imagination where I would always be alien-- but too, holding a certain magic of a vast domain below sky that might contain anything imagined and everything hoped for. Many days I wished that I could go there, stay there under that shimmering plane, live womb-like down deep in filtered light among bright fish swimming overhead like floating birds, in silent liquid peace.

Posted by fred1st at June 18, 2003 05:55 AM | TrackBack


Posted by: peggy at June 18, 2003 12:13 PM

How on earth is this the same person that shot a hole in his own mailbox? God be thanked for versitility. (Of course, I chide you out of sheer envy---the images in this one are so crisp and shimmering. You had me immersed, which is why I'm glad you didn't mentioned the ubiquitous mosquitos...)

Posted by: nathan at June 18, 2003 05:03 PM

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