THE LAST TIME
by Gary Lark
He has emphysema and a bad heart valve
the last time we fish the mountain water.
He knows the valve can go anytime,
refuses replacement surgery,
says he's had enough of that.
I take the bridge to the other side
and he slides down the near bank.
Looking into the pool between us
I can see trout hanging in the current.
I watch my father catch a fish
before I get to where the rapids tails out.
It's a big river with fish holding
near the current's edge, behind rocks
and under shadows, waiting for life
to deliver what it will.
It will be several years before
an oxygen tank is necessary
and this communion with the river
is a daydream. So we fish
our separate sides of the same water.
I catch a few small ones
and throw them back. Two keepers
in my creel as I head to our rendezvous.
He makes it up the bank,
stopping now and then to breathe
and I see his four fine rainbows.
He has bragging rights today.
Gary Lark’s work includes: "River of Solace," Editor's Choice Chapbook Award from Turtle Island Quarterly, Flowstone Press, 2016, “In the House of Memory,” BatCat Press, 2016. “Without a Map,” Wellstone Press, 2013, “Getting By,” winner of the Holland Prize from Logan House Press, 2009. "Ordinary Gravity," is forthcoming from Airlie Press, 2019. His work has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Catamaran, Poet Lore, and ZYZZYVA.