“Catch and Release” by Kyle D. Craig

05 February 2021 on Poetry   Tags:

When I was a boy my father lifted
the barbed-wire fence beyond which lay
a pond teeming with bass, bluegill, catfish.

We pulled worms from catalpa trees,
punctured their bodies on hooks, cast our lines
into the abyss where we believed one particular fish,

a largemouth bass, waited at the bottom.
Thirty years have passed since I’ve opened
a tackle box, yet my father – who has suffered

one heart attack, two strokes, and a broken hip –
still ventures onto the water in a small boat.
His orange life jacket looks like a child’s.

His left-handed casts barely wet the line.
I’m afraid one day – from poor balance
or an inability to fasten his life jacket – he’ll slip,

sink, disappear into that deep dark.
Perhaps it’s then I will pick up my rod again,
trek beyond the barbed-wire and catalpa trees

to the pond of my youth, cast my line, hope
to hook and reel him onto the bank,
hold his slippery body, look into his eyes

and witness his pulsing gills one more time
before I tear the hook from his mouth,
let him sliver back through the murky brown.

***

Artwork: "Canoes" by Ramsey Mathews. Photograph.

Kyle D. Craig lives in Indianapolis with his wife, daughter, and an orange cat named Jasper. He holds an MA in Mental Health Counseling and an MFA from Butler University, and enjoys teaching poetry workshops to mental health professionals, hospital chaplains, and addiction center counselors. His poems have appeared in The Louisville Review, Sou'wester, Blue Earth Review, Tar River Poetry, North Dakota Quarterly, Indiana Humanities, and others. His book of haiku and haibun, entitled Invisible Tea (Red Moon Press, 2016), won a Haiku Society of America Merit Book Award.

Ramsey Mathews won the 2017 Graduate Student Excellence in Visual Arts Award at Florida State University where he earned a PhD in English and Creative Writing. Before academia, he performed stand-in and stunt work in Hollywood for Patrick Swayze and Ron Perlman. When Ramsey is not writing poetry, fiction, or drama, you’ll find him pointing a camera at the world.  Follow him on Twitter @dramapoet and Instagram @ramseymathews.

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