for Elizabeth Herdrich and for/after David Herdrich
by Michele Madigan Somerville
It’s green where I remember you,
out in “The Mighty.” There
we gathered, green around gills.
There are no children in the photo.
The nurse yet to be reeled in
and you have not yet fallen
The landscape therefore has a great white bald spot.
Even the air is green,
but the dog is white.
The dog has a face like a baby
whose bottomless eyes
are the color
of devotion’s dark,
down into what
hold and love.
In the next shot the dog
is walking itself
into the woods,
and you follow.
He likes the creek.
You both like the sun
pushing through, but only you and the dog
appear to hear it.
There’s a table on the grass and conversation erudition fails
to spoil. A lull washes up. Time
for one of your fish tales:
Rock snot, haloed in blue light,
a vigil for lunkers, waiting for something to fall
for bait, to nibble in crazy-ass cold of a shanty by the hole
fashioned by means of an auger or ax.
Using crappies, yabbies, nippers, waxworms or
fatheads, you sought the jiggle with your pole,
your breath visible, as half-
hammered and blue-lipped
You and your well- lubricated
team of Jersey knuckleheads
gave the elements “the finger”
as you waited on thick ice
or at least that was the hope—
for adequate thickness.
In twenty below you waited for Darkhorses or Giant Muskies,
and for something to happen which would truly be
something when happen it did.
O how the animal fights to remain in its frigid habitat
When the opportunity arose
you brought those heads up
through the hole so that its magnitude
once on board might be measured by the Jersey knuckleheads—
It was clear it was you
against the beast in the cold.
You wrestled that cold catch longer
and better than any angler
and beyond the lengths
even measurement itself can swim.
In this landlubber’s shot you play Alpha to the blond,
smiling dog. He cavorts, fetches, and follows his bones
into tall grass.
In my view you are following your bones into tall grass,
falling hard yet soft—
Do you remember how imperative
out of Bill’s irises,
how we used to visit the iris festival
near the house once spring hit,
where the blossoms bore such elaborate and various
names as “Nurse Elizabeth.”