Billy Collins

(22 March 1941 - / New York City)

Fishing On The Susquehanna In July


I have never been fishing on the Susquehanna
or on any river for that matter
to be perfectly honest.

Not in July or any month
have I had the pleasure -- if it is a pleasure --
of fishing on the Susquehanna.

I am more likely to be found
in a quiet room like this one --
a painting of a woman on the wall,

a bowl of tangerines on the table --
trying to manufacture the sensation
of fishing on the Susquehanna.

There is little doubt
that others have been fishing
on the Susquehanna,

rowing upstream in a wooden boat,
sliding the oars under the water
then raising them to drip in the light.

But the nearest I have ever come to
fishing on the Susquehanna
was one afternoon in a museum in Philadelphia,

when I balanced a little egg of time
in front of a painting
in which that river curled around a bend

under a blue cloud-ruffled sky,
dense trees along the banks,
and a fellow with a red bandana

sitting in a small, green
flat-bottom boat
holding the thin whip of a pole.

That is something I am unlikely
ever to do, I remember
saying to myself and the person next to me.

Then I blinked and moved on
to other American scenes
of haystacks, water whitening over rocks,

even one of a brown hare
who seemed so wired with alertness
I imagined him springing right out of the frame.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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  • Bronze Star - 6,689 Points * Sunprincess * (3/19/2014 11:01:00 AM)

    ........my favourite stanzas...enjoyed much..
    under a blue cloud-ruffled sky,
    dense trees along the banks,
    and a fellow with a red bandana

    sitting in a small, green
    flat-bottom boat
    holding the thin whip of a pole. (Report) Reply

Read all 4 comments »

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