Camping At Six Thousand Feet
The snow line is at six thousand twelve,
still I fish along the shore, around the bend
from the caved-in bank my setter tunneled through
while chasing the scent of otters, three dog-lives ago.
Ralph, Sam and Annie. Names of children
I would never have. What doesn’t happen
sometimes is more real. I bait my hook
not to catch a fish, but to listen to the reel,
the cast and spin of a six-pound test line,
to the plunk of a leaded weight breaking
the lake’s surface. Evening is setting in
and clouds fall, through the slopes of pine.
On the far shore, I can see the blue
of our pitched tent. He’s over there now,
wrapping potatoes in foil to bake in the campfire.
I cannot hear it, but I know my music box
is on the tailgate next to his camp stove.
He sings to wind-up waltzes and wears a red-light headlamp
for cooking in the dark. Later, he’ll wear it backwards
when he takes me inside the tent. I will lie on my back
and watch the shadows we produce. And listen
to spring run-off spill into the calm of Emerald Lake.
Like a mouth stifled by my hand, the deep basin
muffles the creek’s final plunge.
Published by Naugatuck River Review, a beautiful bi-annual print journal for narrative poetry. And hey, finally a photo credit I can claim as my own!