When I was a child, shit, maybe four or five I was at Lake Fork in East Texas with my Paw paw. I stood on the edge of the lake in overgrown grass. I wore khaki shorts and a stripped shirt. I can’t remember my shoes.
I had a shitty yellow fishing pole made of plastic. I’m not sure if he wanted to teach me a lesson about life that day. That pole was shit. It couldn’t catch a fish if you threw it to the numbers.
The sun two-stepped off the crescent waves of the water. Years after this story, there was a drought in Texas that nearly bled it dry. I guess water is like plants. No frontal lobe, but an understanding of what it needs to survive. How to continue if it doesn’t.
He was a country boy who grew up on a farm in Buffalo, Texas. Broke as fuck and wound up owning his own business. Buying a house. Cadillacs. Being a Father. A True Man of God who loved Everyone and taught me how to do the same. I never go to church anymore, and sometimes people piss me off. I look at the stars and I wonder how we got here and just what our purpose is. Why we hate each other for no reason.
Why the fuck is life after High School never leaving High School?
Pawpaw knew better than to trust me with that shitty rod. Yellow was my favorite color. I liked the Summer. I guess Apollo has been asking me to pay attention to him for sometime now. Maybe he wanted some prayers. We could all use them from time to time. Even God’s. Especially Gods.
Pawpaw just stood there with the winning smile on his face. His skin wasn’t as wrinkled as I remember it. He stood there, smiling, watching, waiting.
It happened. I was staring at the sun through the waves. Poseidon got pissed or something. Water is cool and all but come on y'all. The. Sun.
So Poseidon sends the fish I never saw but felt. I was daydreaming about something. Half of my memories are bumping into trash cans, closed doors, random stumbling-strangers because I’m so occupied with my thoughts I’m just not here. I’m there.
I was brought from the other there to there, back then, when that fish yanked that shity pole out of my Freudian hands into the depths of a Lake I saw many times after.
I never saw that pole again.
Grandpa did what Grandpas do.
Torches are passed.
Women suffer the most. They are never pretty enough or smart enough or strong enough for anything. They bury lovers and other pieces of themselves along the way. That’s all bullshit, but it’s the cross we made for them.
The Women in my life taught me how to hold open doors, when to buy flowers, why dressing nice is important sometimes,
how to apologize, who to bring home, where to find the words when I see grey clouds in irises, and how important it is to stand in the rain when you find there is nothing to say..
Paw paw got caught by a fish one day. He was day dreaming about his farm. About taking me to the deer lease. Taking me to
my fourth birthday when I was so sick
I laid in his lap and my friends played
min-golf and no one really gave a shit
but Paw paw did.
He got caught by the fish that swallows us all. Our spirits are bait for the monsters of our bodies. We are indestructible otherwise.
Nana taught me that after carrying her cross. Birthing three women to carry their crosses in this world. Spending hours on make-up and going to a beauty salon to make my Paw paw smile. She never saw him smile over the paper during unmake-upped saturday morning coffee like I did.
She buried him and I carried him with cousins and my brother to a quiet place that he would sit and feed squirrels if he had the life left.
I feel his hands tighten mine in job interviews when I shake firmly.
I smell him in the aisle at HEB with Brut aftershave.
I taste him in Coffee.
I see his spirit pinballing
I hear him tell me to pray when I should.
I never do. I see his ghost every night and sometimes he doesn’t have the smile that taught me so much and I just tell him
— Bryan Grissom-Fishing