The last summer I went fishing with my father up north

the last thing on my mind was how I wouldn’t get another chance

to hear him talk about buying and running a small fishing lodge,

a retirement interest of his that I think helps to explain why

every summer he’d invite me to stay at one with him.

I can still see him sitting in a rocking chair

in one of those modest cabins he liked to rent, reading a book

underneath a standing lamp and sipping on a beer, his grey hair

the color of one of my flies I’d use the following morning

when I went out with the guide.

But it wasn’t all butter rum Life Savers for Christmas,

because despite how we’d often argue with one another

about the ethics of responsible fishing practices

and styles, myself a purist fly fisherman, himself

a beer and bobber lover, I’m pretty sure he just loved the idea

of fishing more than actually doing it,

since more often than not, when it came time to actually fish,

he’d decide to stay in because of his back, or watch me fish

from the porch, a gestalt that made it more pleasurable to be there

with him, even when it was disappointing.

Though there was that time he guilted me into taking the last boat

on the water and letting him drag some godawful thing

50 yards behind us back and forth across the lake for hours,

while he laughed at me steering the electric motor and called me

“idiot” in between slurps of Bud.

I stopped fishing a couple of years after he passed for many reasons,

one of them being obvious,

though sometimes on social media

I’ll see a friend has posted a picture of their kid holding up a fish,

and when I see that I almost always wonder if those families think about

how someday Happiness will fish them from their own dream of having

the perfect water to leave this earth beside.

This I usually follow with my usual social awkwardness over not knowing

how to explain that that’s probably the last thing they want to hear.