Following a Funeral in the Ozarks

Poetry by Aaron Morris
Issue 33 • November 2015 • Williamsburg

Dense as the layer of red dust
which blankets the truck’s surface, smoke
so thick I struggle for breath -
I bounce around the cab from my one-handed effort,
flailing like a toolbox rattling and clanging
in the truck bed.

His camel cigarette dangles when he says
Roll that window up, son. Don’t want all that dust
inside the truck. Do you hear me, son?

The blue water breathtaking, even through
a filthy windshield. I watch
and already he’s on the muddy sand,
standing confident before the river,
current unmindful of the rocks
and their mute protest.

He ties a line, cuts the excess off with tiny scissors.
He threads one squirming worm on a hook,
hacks, gurgles, then spits
on the nightcrawler.
For Luck? For scent?
Do fish like tobacco?

A cast: whirring of line leaving the reel,
bait plopping on water. As we wait,
granddad pulls a Coke
out of his tackle
and starts to explain:
Listen, son…

Line pulls tight, zips out of reel, a twiddle
of fighting drag, cranking in
yards of line until
a big blue catfish flops, gasps
at our feet on the beach.

He looks down
at the dying fish and continues
…You’ll be alright
in time. Don’t let
them tell you any different.

Aaron Morris is an MFA Fiction candidate at Old Dominion University as well as an aerospace engineer at the NASA Langley Research Center. He writes quirky pop culture poems and short stories with damaged characters. He is currently working on a humorous, satirical novel.

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