It always drove me and Matthew crazy
when Daddy and Bennet stopped in the still-dark
for coffee at the diner lit
like Hopper’s Nighthawks.
We’d twirl on our stools as my plumber uncle
rasped his stubbled, Lincoln face
with rough hands, so delicate
and patient unsnarling monofilament,
my father wearing his blue captain’s hat
the only week of the year not out
saving souls, bringing in the sheaves.
We were on our way to water, either
blue-green surf or brown tidal river
to catch mostly hardheads, whiting, perch,
thrilled to be breathing salt air in sight
of palms, over sharks and stingrays,
under pink-piled clouds instead
of back in red-dirt-dusty Georgia.
My mother’s only week of happiness,
with beer, and sex at sunrise on the beach
those mornings we kids slept in.
Now I fish alone, stop in my own darkness
at the fluorescent 7-11 for coffee and doughnut,
drive through pastel dawns past palms
and signs with silhouettes
of the little varmints to watch out for
so we don’t kill anything on the way
to the time we have left
as we stand on bridge or beach
and try to catch any happiness we can
before we let it go.