The sighting

In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing.
—Norman Maclean, “A River Runs Through It”

Let him be
standing just like that,
legs apart in the stream,
one hand on the rod,
the other pulling the fly line
toward him, red filament pooling
in a circle atop the swirls
of water at his knees.

Let him be
there when the chinook
are heading upstream,
when they are ripe with eggs,
when they might be hungry
for the fly.

Let him be
the young man in waders
wearing a dark beard with
reddish glints in sunlight,
his calm hands unhurried
as he waves the wand
over his head in a graceful
arc between 10 and 2,
deftly setting leader and fly
atop water on its busy way
to the sea.

Let him be
aware of salmon
swimming toward him
as the river runs by him.

Let him be
aware of me as I stand
dry-footed on shore,
watching. Let him cast
me a fond smile as I wish
him happy birthday,
many returns of forever.

Let him know
that I’m soon to turn
sixty-five, though
he did not. Now
he is ageless,
my companion

Let me turn
and walk away
thank you,
and once again,

Let him know.
Let him be.
Let him.

On the 71st anniversary of the birth of my late husband,
Clifford Ernest Polland, May 21, 1952–March 19, 2001

You can listen to Jan read this poem here.

Cliff Polland with a tiny fish about to be tossed back into the stream
Photo / Jan Haag

About janishaag

Writer, writing coach, editor
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