Grow

Your death, when it finally arrived,
was not wall after wall of crashing waves,

but a single body blow—
air leaving me so fast

I had to sit down.
I counted my heartbeats,

tried to reel in breath
with your bamboo fly rod,

the one on which you’d snagged
your first fingerling trout.

I still have the picture pinned
to our kitchen bulletin board—

your teeth like stars behind
broad lips, shades blotting

your eyes, the spotty fish
gleaming in your palm.

I saw you let it go, saying,
Grow. As I cast for air,

I felt your steadying hand winding
the line, the leader, the caddis fly,

the same hand that stroked my thigh
before sleep. I heard the rumble

of your voice, Great gams, Toots. 
And, as the laugh

lurched up my throat—
breath.

Jan Haag

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