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John Haines Poetry : "To My Father"

Posted on March 14 2011

As we were writing about the death of “Poet of the Wild” John Haines last week, reader John DeMott pointed us to a Haines poem entitled “To My Father.” As a tribute to the poet and and as a reminder of the importance of fathers teaching their children to fish, we reprint it today with the permission of Wesleyan University Press.
Last evening I entered a pool
on the Blackfoot River
and cast to a late rise,
maybe the last of a perishing fall.
Light shone on that water,
the rain dimple of feeding trout,
and memory,
and the deep stillness of boyhood.
And I remembered, not the name
of the river, nor the hill
in Maryland looming beyond it,
nor the sky, a late rose
burning that eastern summer;
but the long, rock pool that whispered
before us, and your voice
steady and calm beside me:
“Try it here, one more time…”
And the fly with its hook floated down,
a small, dim star riding a ripple,
and the bright fish rose
from under its rock, and struck.
Last evening I watch a rise
break again on the still current;
quiet as a downed leaf,
its widening circle in the dusk.

John Haines, “To My Father” from Cicada © 1977 by John Haines. Reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.

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