Canyonlands Journal
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Fly Fishing

Lost Canyon, remote enough to offer the twin pleasures of solitude and daydreaming. So I'm surprised to encounter a man casting a fly line in sweeping arcs along the curved sandstone walls.

We nod and I ask what he's doing.

“Same as you," he replies. "Fly fishing.”

Is he deranged? Since he's carrying nothing more harmful than fly rod and tackle, I risk saying: “But, there’s no water, no fish here."

"I know that you think it's strange. There’s no use denying it. I can see it in your eyes. But Justine's approach to fishing is even stranger.”

The Justine that I know? I walked with her just last week in Moab, her black hair flowing over a flower-print dress, with all males turning to gape regardless of age.

“Justine is a wonder to look at, isn’t she?" he says. "She writes poems in matchbooks and leaves them in bars with her post box address included?

“But how is that like fly fishing?”

“Fishermen use a slender rod and colorful flies tied to a spider’s filament. The best of them cut the barbs off their hooks, making it almost impossible to land a fish. It isn’t the fish they want—many neither keep nor eat them. It’s the perfect and immediate communication with another being.”

“And why mention Justine to me?”

“You too cast your lines into near empty places and most often you open an empty post box.”

empty canyon –
flute music

Published in Haibun Today, January 20, 2008. Kokopelli is a fertility deity, usually depicted as a humpbacked flute player, who has been venerated by some Native American cultures in the Southwestern United States. He is also a trickster god and represents the spirit of music.

Image: Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium)