richard luftig

Learning to Wait

Let the fish come to you, my father scolded
each time I jerked my pole out of the water
to see if I had caught anything. Just watch
the bobbin. When it dances up and down
you know a fish is on the line.
So I sat perfectly

still in the rowboat, not a bite in sight and watched
the aspen leaves on the lakeshore coming alive
in the new April air, their branches bending
double like a gymnast over the edge of the land.
We sat like that for hours, he saying nothing,

smoking unfiltered cigarettes, me afraid to speak,
his profile a crescent moon reflected
in the water clear to the bottom until he said
time to quit and we rowed in, my unhappiness
as long as the empty stringer that trailed behind.

Now, I visit my son and we fish in his boat watching
overhanging trees heavy with last evening’s starlight.
Small birds nestle in the thistles and cattails gossiping
among themselves about the latest news on the lake.
My stringer remains empty but I do not make a sound.

Richard Luftig is a recipient of the Cincinnati Post-Corbett Foundation Award for Literature and a semi finalist for the Emily Dickinson Society Award. His poems have appeared in numerous literary journals in the United States, Japan, Europe, Thailand, Hong Kong and elsewhere, and have been translated into Japanese, Polish, German and Finnish. He is a 2012 Pushcart Poetry Prize nominee.