Sunday, June 21, 2009

Limits of Spectacle Lake
--in memory of my father,
Walter James Clear, 1918-1966

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 churning depths.

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.

--in memory,
Mark Benchley Anderson


You called me out for a sparrow
fallen from the Douglas fir,
the nest invisible in the endless web
of branch upon branch reeling above us.
And what comfort was I,
your earth-bound wife, nine months
pregnant, barely moving?

You lifted it into the warm cradle of your hands
and for a long moment we didn't speak.
The child inside me shifted and turned --
a certain impatience, I suppose, to get on with things.
And then so gently you balanced the bird
on a low bough, out of reach of cats.
We knew it would not survive the night.


The City Light crew
has trimmed the upper branches,
sheared off most of one side
to keep us safe, they say, from a collision
of evergreen and wire. Now it stands
lop-sided, north-heavy.

In wind I fret over gusting limbs,
a shattering of glass and timber --
I keep watch over our sleeping children,
yet they wake and cry
to the rhododendron's rasping
against storm windows.

My bones shiver even under cover, safe
from careening branches, from small birds
dropping into darkness.

© T. Clear


  1. You write so beautifully, and with such passion, that I can't find an adequate response. Thank you.

  2. What a beautiful post, T. I'm weepy here, at the start of my day.

  3. A wonderful tribute to two fathers....perfect.

  4. Beautiful, T. What a gift to us all!

  5. Hello. I'm over from Citizen K. We have much in common and I love your poetry!

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  7. Your tribute awakens many moments held in memory - your voice, an echo of the past now anew ... Thank you.

  8. Many thanks to all!

    And Willow, I'm pleased that you dropped in to Premium T. Feel free to stop by any time.

  9. Hi T.

    So sorry I didn't make it here yesterday-- house guests, trip to Boise today, blah blah. That is a really moving poem with such precise details & so much edge of emotion. Thanks.