One theme. One poet. One memoirist.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Ashegon Lake

Our theme for this week: Kinship

This is a picture of the most beautiful place in the world.

I know what you're thinking. This is hardly picturesque. The water is grey-black and what's with that old raft? This may be many things, but it is certainly not beautiful.

It is a photograph taken from the screened in porch of my family's cabin in Northern Wisconsin. That's my Gran on the dock along with my younger brother. Grandma built the cabin with my grandfather 50 years ago. It's the place where my brothers, cousins, and I all passed our summers.

I had, overwhelmingly, a really beautiful childhood complete with brothers with whom I could fight, a big shaggy dog, and a lovely big backyard with a fort and a tree to climb. But summers at the lake were perfect. We swam, played cards and ate ice cream with our great aunt, had campfires, told ghost stories, hiked and most importantly, learned to fish.

My entire family fishes, including my 86 year old grandmother. It's one of the few enjoyments that we all share (that and a love for Jarts) and can do very amicably as a family. It's something I do very rarely now that I live in Minnesota, but every year I meet my folks at the cabin for a weekend during their vacation. Pa and I usually head out at least once to go fishing together and it is a moment I cherish every year. It's a moment to remember and offer a small prayer of gratitude for my life and keep those memories and relationships as part of my present.


Ashegon Lake
The sun has already gone behind the ring of trees
surrounding the lake when Dad fires up the motor
on Grandma's old boat. I run down the three concrete steps,
step off the dock and into the boat beside him,
careful not to spill the worms we dug out of the earth earlier.
My hands are dirty, like his, as are my jeans and old shoes.
I drop a cooler full of PBR and a bucket behind us and off we go.
When we get to the beaver dam, I'll dangle my feet in the water.
He'll cast and have a fish before I'm finished untangling my line
and cussing the slipperiness of the worms.
We'll talk, a little, He'll tell me how he met Mom, ask about work.
But mainly, we'll drink our beer, fish for smallmouth and panfish,
anticipating the crackle and pop they'll make
filleted and frying in a pan of hot oil

1 comment:

  1. One of the things I so appreciate about your writing is that you don't fall into sentimentality. You write about people as they are for the most part, and I admire that because I have such a hard time not being mushy.

    So, yay!

    I don't really like the ending of this as much as I like your first draft. As it is here, it takes me out of the moment. This is a poem of presence: you're with your dad in the boat on the lake simply enjoying the time together. Moving the action forward with the anticipation seems counter to the effect you're trying to produce (or that I want you to produce?). I also think your comparison of casting techniques in the first draft is stronger.

    The image details (e.g., three concrete steps, the worms, the dirty hands and jeans, the feet in the water) are, as usual, stunning.