The water is not clear. Regardless, they are out
fishing. The geese have left
for the shimmer of more frequent minnows,
but these details, too, fail in the stream
as the water fails to sustain anything but algae
absorbing sunlight in rootless patches.
The glint of a flask passed between them
replaces the ceremony of the catch, mimics
trout scales. They fish near a bank where nothing
grows like it ought, land mostly barren
and cracked. What has sprung forth struggles,
twisting as the sun’s position moves,
as precipitation levels rise with autumnal rain.
Both fight not to sing under their breath—
different versions of an old song drowned out
by the sound of wind through trees; both believe
what’s in the water might, finally, rediscover hunger.
The younger one casts, swings the rod sidearm—
the other sinks to the boat’s well and cracks a beer,
hook not even in the water. He has his reasons.
Frogs practice their mating calls: it begins
like the remnants of a cough, it begins like sunset.