Matching tan cargo pants and button-up shirt,
I try to channel the intelligence and insight
Of my two idols, Steve Irwin and Bear Grylls
As my grandpa’s 2005 Chevrolet Astro van,
packed like a warehouse with
fishing poles, sunflower seeds, and family,
burns rubber 810 miles north on I-90 to
The home of my earliest ancestors
where they lived off the land for survival, not for vacation.
Their familiarity and comfort in these woods and lakes
genetically passed through their offspring and into myself
as I explore this new place like it is the backyard
of my childhood home. This feels like home.
The Sun’s rays reflect off of the vast lake into our eyes as
we navigate our way through a corn maze
of infinite narrow waterways and bays,
surrounded by stalks of supersized spruce trees
that reach up and touch the wispy, white clouds from above.
The dingy paper map guides us to my grandfather’s favorite spots
he discovered when he was my age.
Northern pike, walleye, bass. No matter the size or shape,
they each can provide us fishermen and fisherboys
with the joy of negotiating and closing a business deal.
The indirect handshake between the fish’s mouth and
your palm as the line connects the two of you
recognizes and confirms your contract.
Nothing comes close to the rush of adrenaline
—heart pumping, eyes widening, grin growing—
you feel when you reel one in, after waiting
minute after minute … hour after hour …
especially when it is your very first time, very first one.