A fisher-boy's life - part two

A fisher-boy’s life (part two)

‘Come inside and listen to the radio, son,’
my father said, that long ago fateful day
but war seemed good, gun versus gun
exciting enough to this five year old;
(not as exciting as the fishing, but still …)
Soon we were driving north, father and I
in his Morgan sports, to Walton-le-dale,
to his new job, escaping Chigwell bombs,
mother, sisters (now three) coming up by train
Seventy five years later I remember that
journey and other things that children do -
but this - this is fishing, nineteen forty two.

Lancashire pond, shiveringly deep
rush and weed fringed, overhanging willows,
dark skies, menacing, black mirror calm,
whatever could be alive down there?
I remember my father handing me the rod,
the tiny shiny bobble cork, red and white,
with quill upright out there in the middle.
still; ‘Watch it, now, pay attention’,
he instructed, (as if I needed to be told),
and yet I missed the strike when,
disbelieving, I could no longer see the float,
just that plop central to those circles,
gone. Too late, Bryan, father said,
and still I feel his disappointment in me,
for me in spite of all my good intent
and in myself for passion spent..

He watched me reeling in the silken line,
trembling hands transfixing another worm
My fingers tight upon its hopeless writhing
a painful death to make another death
(but worms can feel no pain, he’d said)
yet such a thrill it seemed to try to kill
some wild, some wondrous living thing
in watery depths eating my living bait
and this time, yes! I feel the line tighten,
the quiver and bounce of the split cane rod
in my clenched fists, heart thudding
father issuing unheard instructions
until with a final heave, airborne was my fish
five inch silver-flashing red-fin landing
flicking and gasping at my feet, looking -
yes, looking at me: ‘pick him up, son’,
father said; ‘a roach, is he not beautiful?’.
Oh yes! In my hands he was so beautiful
I smell today the fresh-sour smell of him
as for that first time I knew the hunter’s
love; strong love enough to never dim.

Bryan Islip
Part two of  ‘A fisher-boy’s life’ : May 2014

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