— For Jim and Denny
I could tell you my uncles went fishing late at night, how they stepped down into darkness along paths to the river they needed no light to see. I could say they had a simpler name for the river, that they never called it "The Big Blue" or "The Mighty Blue" the way children used to in camp songs back then. I could describe how they went out of their way to sidestep the law, or I could say that using some sort of rigged-up barrel under water they set a trap, and that by now, through that darkness in which they could see, they have tricked the catfish and outwitted the game warden. I will tell you that, for once, with the river's breath still on them, my grandfather did not demand to know where they had been so late in the dark alone. Together.
That they untied the burlap bag full of khaki-yellow fish, still struggling, skin gleaming, eyes staring dumbfounded into night that was no longer water you might have guessed, though you would be surprised to see those whiskers twitch as the cats tried to touch everything, still searching for the river bottom. My uncles cleaned the catch with sure hands and steady knives — their theft complete. Gut-strewn, they had become a little of what they had taken.
I can tell you they remember this night, that years from now, when they are old men, one of them, the younger, will tell the story around the dinner table. And that the light will still catch and spark in his eyes like river water shaken off of fish skin.
sparks of light and dark, caught
the brown breathing of catfish
beneath The Blue