Saturday, April 6, 2013


Woman Fishing, from Mary Lee at Year of Reading
My first thought when I saw Mary Lee's picture this morning
"Are you kidding ?
Now I'm supposed to write about fly fishing?"
I don't know one single thing about fly fishing.
When I write anything.
I try hard to write small.
It's hard to write small when you don't know anything. 

And then I listened to the poem
Kevin had already written, recorded and posted.
I listened to his poem once, twice, three times.
Wow. Just wow.
I was totally intimidated.

 I tried to write. A few words emerged on the page. 
She, the intrepid warrior
mounts her perch.
And then I thought about fish in the Bible.
    - I will make you fishers of men
    - loaves and fishes
    - the disciples bringing up the nets full of fish

And I thought about a time when I was a little girl, and we went fishing with a friend of my dad's. My father was from Detroit, and my mother was from Chicago, and we were not a fishing kind of family. I remember my mom standing in the kitchen packing a laundry basket full of something- food? extra clothes?  And then I remember my father falling into the water and his khaki wash pants being wet to the knees.

And then I thought about a time the summer I adopted the boys, when a man let the boys borrow his fishing pole and try their hand in the filthy, duck-poopy lake at Washington Park. And the boys caught a fish and put it in a plastic bag and tied it to their bike handlebars, and rode home, but about a block from home, it fell out on the street, and fish goo squished out, and the boys made me pick it up and carry the bag home. And I washed my hand off under the outside spigot because I didn't want fish goo in the sink in the house. And then I wasn't sure what to do with the fish in the bag.

And then I went about my day-- did a 5k walk for Brain Tumor research this morning, and then went on to a baby shower. Came home and walked the dog. As I walked, I thought about the photograph. I thought about how Kevin had framed it like it was a conversation between two men, watching this a woman do something that was probably completely out of character for that time period.

I wondered about that woman. I thought she was probably single. I thought about my life as a single woman. I thought about how she might have pushed aside a life of domesticity for a life of adventure. And this stanza came.

Not for her
a steepled sanctuary  
with its daily devotions
of domesticity 
submitting to another
suckling babies
washing windows
laboring in a hot kitchen 

And then it wasn't going that great. Because I like things in threes and I couldn't figure out what other domestic tasks I might want to use. And I kept thinking about pioneer women doing laundry.

I opened a new window to see what people were posting on Facebook. I looked to see if Twister, the puppy from had made it to his new home in Seattle. I procrastinated for as long as I possibly could.

And I thought about how much I hate writing at night.
And about how I should really turn off the basketball game so it would be quiet, because I really write better in the quiet.
And I thought about not writing a poem today.
And I wondered if it would really matter if I skipped a day. 
And then finally I wrote.
And I was totally surprised by the direction it went.
And I'm not thrilled, but a poem is a poem. Right?


Not for her
a steepled sanctuary  
hard wooden pews
raging orations
Hymns from the burgundy
robed choir 
mixing in a smoky haze
with yesterday's gossip.

she hikes her skirt
and climbs a rock pulpit
to worship
in a cathedral 
of rushing water.
 River choir
sings glory hallelujah
As she casts her line
And lifts her heart

(c) Carol Wilcox, 2013


Beverley Baird said...

I don't know how you do it, but your poems always captivate me. There is something so special about them.
For many people fishing is like praying. A beautiful poem. (and a great post)

Ramona said...

Carol, I love the journey you took (and the fact that you shared it with us) to arrive at this poem! "River choir sings glory hallelujah." I love this line. Thank you for this post. I can't wait to show my students how much thinking, remembering, living, and wondering occurred before you finally wrote.

Linda B said...

So it came out something magically perfect, Carol. I love the post that told 'all' the story. You have such a voice in your writing that I like the background and the poem resulting. It seems you have gotten ready for Sunday!

Mary Lee said...

**tears jump to my eyes**

Oh, Carol.
You have told my story.
(who professes not to be a fisher-person)
have told the world
why I fish.

(love the process, too! :-)