Thom Amundsen is a high school English teacher & theatre director at Shakopee High School in Minnesota. Being a school teacher at his post in September, he first crossed paths with the Minnesota Men’s Conference at the winter event: Into the Belly of Ice and Snow. He writes: “What I discovered was far beyond my expectations, of which remained a mystery.” Here is a portion of his memorial to his father in poetry and prose.
My dad used to take me fishing when I was a kid.
We would start out early in the morning, 5 AM, and I would be asleep in the car by the time we left the driveway at first, but then I would wake and listen as he said, ‘this looks like a spot.’ He would literally crawl his Plymouth across the gravel leading up to an old iconic bridge over a stream in Anywhere, Northern Wisconsin. We would get out of the car and step on the gravel with such delicacy to not make a sound, clicking the car doors in their engagement rather than full thrust slapping the metal. Our fishing gear in hand we would step along the steep side of a bridge and make our way to the river, the pool ‘where they are waiting for us’ being ever so careful to not shift rocks so they would avalanche to the water. I do recall on occasion where that very thing happened, and he would look at me and I would look at him, and we would both have knowing expressions that suggested we drive away and come back later. That’s what we did.
I found your old stream again last night Dad
You know the one with overhanging limbs,
fallen trees and a winding current that teems
with that sparkling essence you suggested I respect.
I walked along in my waders carrying fresh tears in my creel,
Knowing I’d like to have you with me, here, aside me
walking trails, tying lures and crawling upon rocks
while we waited patiently in the fresh morning’s dew.
The art of reading the lie of a river is magic,
A mystique your patience taught me to imagine.
This morning in the crisp dawn I took a moment
and watched a cloud streak high across the sky,
And I imagined quiet as the water played my cast
Quick as my line danced the creek, I’d found solace
And a whisper that is your voice told me again to work the line
“There’s our bridge up ahead” its small and rusty with age
his eyes would scan the sun-streaked water with ease
the sky now glazed, a sudden reflective haze guides me.
If I walk slow I might well share a rise with your eyes.
© Thom Amundsen 2014