Saturday, March 16, 2013


There was a time when outdoor writers wrote about much more than the outdoors. Hunting was more than hunting; fishing was more than fishing, and the campfire was the hub about which the wheels of the world turned. For whatever reason, we've moved away from that. More often than not, today's outdoor writers are technical writers. Fly fishing publications - both books and periodicals - oftentimes read like DIY home repair guides; they're more about method than they are about meaning. We've too much data. We need stories. We need metaphor.

With that thought in mind, I found this sonnet while browsing poems with my students.  As I'm a father of two precocious little girls and one very rambunctious little boy I was taken by the poem's imagery and the ambiguity of the last two lines.

Thought some of you folks might appreciate "Fishing" as I do ... 


The two of them stood in the middle water,
The current slipping away, quick and cold,
The sun slow at his zenith, sweating gold,
Once, in some sullen summer of father and daughter.
Maybe he regretted he had brought her—
She'd rather have been elsewhere, her look told—
Perhaps a year ago, but now too old.
Still, she remembered lessons he had taught her:
To cast towards shadows, where the sunlight fails
And fishes shelter in the undergrowth.
And when the unseen strikes, how all else pales
Beside the bright-dark struggle, the rainbow wroth,
Life and death weighed in the shining scales,
The invisible line pulled taut that links them both.
      - A.E. Stallings


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