Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

Limits of Spectacle Lake

--in memory of my father

When the sun had slipped behind the hills

I said, let’s go back. Forget this business of lures and lines

and casting so far the eye could hardly follow the thread

out to snag a rainbow’s lip. Afraid we’d lose our way

and soon our boat would spin and sink.

There we’d sit eye to eye with a million trout.

When I was eight I caught my limit. But not before my father

turned the boat to shore and let out one last line

for luck. I held that rod for all the hope left

reeling in the wake. I pulled those fish

from tangled, churning light slipping underhand.

Six rainbow trout.

I don’t know who was more the spectacle that night --

the lake, me, or my father gently guiding the pole

between my unbelieving hands. Somehow he trusted

in the end of all filtering light. When he died

the next winter, I remembered six fish

laid out stiff on a plank of wood.

Eye to eye with the dead, in the wake

of the boat, I learned the limits,

the last ripple of life in a dying fish.

--T. Clear

(A poem from my youth: this dates back to 1980.)


  1. Lovely! And what a perfect photo to accompany the poem.
    I like your "new" (havne't dropped by for a while) blog design and photo.

  2. ah, learning life's lessons and bonding with Dad. Lovely poem, T. Love your new header photo. Wow.

  3. Thank you. What a beautiful poem.

  4. Rather sad T, but full of hope. We all become orphans in time.

    A new week. Bisou, Cro.

  5. What a moving poem! I love the way it turns back to the eye to eye image at the beginning. I was so struck by that image to begin with -- its simultaneous playfulness and seriousness. It's like a basket made to carry the speaker's fear. Then we realize where it's come from -- that heartbreaking and abrupt ending of all security: a father's death. Beautiful work!

  6. my father is a trout fisherman, turning 80 this year, hands now too feeble to cast, his steps too uncertain to stand at the edge of the dam.
    This resonates with me; and I'm damn sure than my poetry way back then said nothing at all- so thank you for saying it all so well.

  7. Thanks to all for your very thoughtful comments!

  8. It's a lovely poem, T., full of plangent memory and moving imagery. Thanks for it.

  9. lillyanne, thank-you for stopping by and commenting.