I watched his son, just back from Mosul, catch
A northern pike, clearly a yard in length.
The line was strong. Our net sufficient here.
He landed what he called “that lovely hog,”
Removed the lure and let the tired fish lie
In the bottom of the boat. He whooped it up,
Exultant in victory. I got the stringer. I got the
stringer to lynch the captive up through the gills.
But instead he gently lifted the fish, immersed
And held it level, stroked the slippery tail.
The hog, revived by fluid oxygen
And love, swam quietly and dove. He said
We must release all fish over thirty inches.
And driving home the rough roads to paved,
As in his army days, his preference
For lake and woods was manifest. At home
From war, the enemy could be released.
I have never been as good at fishing as
My northern friend and his son but think
I caught a moment here to feed upon,
Sustain my faith. A sluggish alien life
Submerged again beneath our fecund lake
Had been allowed reprieve. I knew our sons
Had taught us generation, roles reversed.