It’s been a good day and I wanted you to know that. It reminded me of a day I had last week.
I was sitting at my window looking over the back yard. The boy sat with his head in his hands. He didn’t get his way and was sour about it. He wanted that candy more than he wanted anything, even television. Fish swam upstream around him between the rocks. They knew the boy was hurt and were gentle with him. They hid underneath the hut and flickered in and out of the bird house on the hackberry with its hard little fruit. The boy didn’t notice. He was dreaming of candy, especially the red kind that tasted like sunshine and puffy clouds in summer.
I was staring out the window at the boy and thought it must be rare for fish to rush over shoals of river oats and coneflower. They made me feel good to know that my backyard was fish friendly.
The boy got up after a while and made his way to the hut. The fish parted to let him through. They were like waiters waiting for customers to sit down at their tables. The menus they had didn’t have fish on them or little boys. They had hackberries and coneflower seeds, the kind of food that tastes good anytime of the day.
When I told my wife about the fish, she thought it was strange to have fish swimming through thin air. You had to be there, I told her and went back to the window to watch the dogs snap at fish they couldn’t catch. The dogs looked like they were chasing bees.
It was a good day, but not for the boy—at least, not at first. But his day turned around after a while. Boys have the unique ability to forget that someone deprived them of candy. Besides, he would be chomping and sucking on summer sky again soon enough.
It was a day that was solid and reliable as a good chauffeur. I could see poems floating around up there in the atmosphere. I thought if I had a net, I could catch one and put it on paper but it just didn’t seem right to let the fish swim around and catch the poems. I suppose poems like being caught in nets as much as butterflies like it. But there were no butterflies that day, only fish and poems.
I had plenty to do but nothing I wanted to do came to me. I didn’t really feel like getting up from my window. The sun stood taller over the boy and soon he took rocks and arranged them into new kinds of hieroglyphics. He soon forgot about the candy. I could tell because he started to smile and the dark lifted off him like dust. Soon, he was full in the light and noticed fish swimming around him. He took to flight and made off with his rocks past the hawthorn and up into the park. What he did in the park, I don’t know. I couldn’t see him from my window. I could only feel him up there in the park.
On a day when fish swim through the grass and a boy recovers from his funk, a guy can’t help but feel all right with the world. I was old. My youth passed before I understood that not everything was serious and urgent, but I didn’t feel bad about it. I wasn’t starving. My room had more than a bare bulb in it. I sat a comfortable chair at the window. As I leaned back in that chair and looked away from the window, fish, and poems, I was sad for a minute. I realized I would again feel as if the world was against me again. It might not be today or tomorrow but I would get ahead of myself and fall into the darkness that enveloped the boy before he flew off to the park.
It didn’t last long, this twinge of sadness. I backed myself away from the edge of despair and concentrated on the poems and the fish. They all looked like trout, strong fish with red slashes across their throats likecutthroat. They must have been understanding trout. They had parted to let the boy pass. The didn’t bother the chickadees that flitted around in the hackberry. The chickadees acted as if the trout poems and trout fish weren’t even there.
As I sat at the window, the poems offered themselves up to me one by one. I didn’t have to use a net and catch them against their wills. They gave of themselves when I didn’t much feel like taking. I thanked them and sent them on their way. They played among the river oats and swam up into the crown of the hackberry.
What can I say about poems that looked like a cutthroat I once caught in the Yellowstone River? I remember that trout well. The night before a bear sniffed my ass, and anyone would remember that. I was asleep when the bear zipped its nose across the fabric of my lean-to and woke me up. At first, I was scared like anyone would be. I was stiff, rolled into a ball as hard as a hackberry seed. Then slowly I understood that a man in a lean-to can’t do much about a black bear sniffing his ass. Acceptance unfolded in me. It made me feel at one with the world that had a bear in it.
After a while staring out the window, I thought of a woman I once knew. The fish and poems turned to look at me. That woman was like a poem, though she didn’t look much like a fish. She had hair that smelled like fresh laundry. She was tall and kind. She’d been in trouble with the police and had a rough past. But I loved her for that and for her tall frame and long hands. I let her memory wash over me and I felt her like sunshine. I can’t remember why she was no longer in my life. But when I thought of her another poem offered itself up to me. This one I took in my hand and put on paper. It was a good poem.
I hope you’re finding your poems today.