Two Fishermen before the First Frost and the Realization that Both Resemble Me

by Roy Seeger

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.

ROY SEEGER’s poetry collection The Boy Whose Hands Were Birds was the winner of the 2008 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Contest. His work has recently appeared in The Greensboro Review, Hunger Mountain, Green Mountains Review, Main Street Rag, and The Laurel Review. He is an English Instructor at the University of South Carolina Aiken.