it was guilt, not bonding

that drove the old man to drag me on unwanted fishing trips

to sit in a hot aluminum boat on some beautiful lake

for what lakes are not beautiful

waiting in silence for the feel of a fish on the line

there were the infrequent and awkward conversations

but dad’s life was so secret and twisted that talk quickly withered away

once, me, dad and grandfather

had a three way guilt trip

we all had issues

especially between the two dads

somehow a day’s fishing turned into an overnight

i am sure they had their reasons

we slept on life preservers next to the fire

ate pork and beans and spam

drank cowboy coffee boiled in a can

went out in the boat every two hours

to check the trotline

dad ever hopeful for that monster catfish

that would get his picture in the paper

until the sun finally rose

the food was gone and the minnows were dead

the trotline had yielded only ordinary fish

i had spent the only time i would ever have

in intimate company with my closest male relatives

and if they spoke to one another

i can’t remember a single word

Copyright Michael Douglas Scott