The Moonlit Trail
The moonlit trail curves through a stand of scrub oak. A wicker creel slaps at my side, and dried leaves crunch underfoot, as I, proudly carrying my first fishing pole, follow along behind my father.
At the lakeside, I catch minnows with a makeshift net. My father baits the hooks and casts the lines far out into the blue-black stillness. Eagerly I watch the tip of my pole, waiting for a fish to strike, then settle into the silence of the night.
As the years pass that silence grows into a great wall between my father and me. Recently, I heard myself saying to a friend about him, "Not more than 20 words ever passed between us."
Tonight, as I stand beside him, strapped into his hospital bed, he is consumed by dementia. He ruptures the silence with a rant against the nurses, his family, and against me, his son.
I think of that night long ago, of the quiet outdoors man who loved fishing. I want to go back to the lakeside, place my hand gently on the man's shoulder and say, "Speak to your son, speak to him before it is too late."
the sound of a splash—
published in contemporary haibun online, Summer 2005, v1 no 2