Feb 17 2010 1:08 am
The bow of a skiff is a fine place to stand while drifting quietly through the snow covered intestine corridors of the upper Pere Marquette River. Slowly over spawning gravel, riffles into pools, eighty miles to the big lake and it’s all downhill. Breathe deep. Brace yourself against metal wind and throw another roll cast to the seam of sand and cobble, of light and dark, of hope and all too obvious nothing. A blue and gray shape will shudder and blur into the dark, hope will be recharged, aching toes forgotten. Look to the hardened men of the river whose manifest competence is something to be admired like you admired your father as a child.
Unless your father beat you because you were a stubborn kid and he was an alcoholic, returning to his bedroom for more and varied instruments. The belt. The book. The bed post. The tools on the wall or on the floor of the truck. The smell of the workshop, of cut wood and oiled machinery. The taste of blood. Your left eye swollen shut. The concern of your sister.
It ain’t no hundred miles of bad road. It ain’t no turkey wearing socks. It’s not the size of the fish that counts. A wild steelhead is a goddamn wild steelhead.