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Fishing at Lake Naconiche a Year After Your Father’s Death

by Troy Varvel


You dove for your father’s fishing pole

after it fell into the lake. I’d propped it

on the railing when you asked me to grab

two more beers from the cooler. The whole lake

was a moon that night with East Texas winds

shimmering the water. We measured time

by tocks of the bobbers, dips per second,

and listened to the waves close on the dock.

The last one snagged your father’s pole. It floated

for two bobs, a bruise on the white meat of the moon,

before it seeped below. You stripped and dove

but the pole had already settled into hydrilla nests

and lake muck that gritted beneath your nails

when you dug into the bed. Waxy stems sprouted

through the water’s surface as you pulled them

in your search. You were under for ten bobs,

fifteen, thirty, cold water needling your bare skin,

underwear plastered thin to your thighs. Bubbles broke

when you came up after forty-five bobs, still

empty handed. I called for you. I wanted you

to abandon your search for your father’s pole.

I was missing our time together even if I knew

it was for selfish reasons. I casted empties

because I wanted more time. Aluminum lids

shone around your head. The faint braille

of goosebumps rose on your neck and arms

and legs as you dove back down, the faint click

of your feet kicking you deep. I waited alone

on the dock, counting fifty bobs, sixty, sixty-five,

and then the cans filled up and they sunk, too.