My Father's Voice | Paulann Petersen


My Father's Voice

Caught on tape, its dappled gleam
makes a brief but vivid swim
upstream through time—him, long dead,
telling me his story. Still a boy, he's in a line
of hired hands on horseback
strung across a Montana river.
Guiding their cow ponies against the flow,
they drag a net behind them
through snow-melt, 
seining for fish.

They're men far from home, miles 
from a rod, boat or the flat, deep water 
fit for its launch. High-country horsemen 
with a yen for trout sizzled crisp
by bacon grease bubbling
in a cast iron pan. 
                                  I'm still that girl
hungry for her father's talk—
him caught on a minute of shining 
magnetic tape. On the wide-cast 
net of longing.

                       —Paulann Petersen


Understory, Lost Horse Press, 2013


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