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Time Spent With My Father, a poem by Rosemary Freedman

Time Spent with My Father
by Rosemary Freedman

26 bluegill were placed on my stringer
and entered into the fishing contest.
I was six. They snapped a Polaroid
of me with that smile wide as a canoe,
my small fingers holding up the line
with my fish shining like
silver Christmas ornaments
and taped it to the bait-house wall.
Now at 50 I recount that story with
the joy of someone who had won
a Nobel Prize—only to have it pointed out
that I had cheated by scooping the fish
out of water with a Styrofoam cup.
The shiny tiny dinosaur-looking creatures
gulping for breath like fat
diabetic chain-smokers telling
the last chapters of their stories.
And what happened to the other children?
Those line casters who patiently waited
and caught nothing? Perhaps they
stared at my tackle-box prize
the way women stare with envy
at designer purses they will never own.
It was true, I was a cheater.
I thought my father loved taking me with him,
day fishing, night fishing, in the small boat with
the green Coleman lantern and those small little
nets he seemed to forever be screwing around with
that had something to do with the light
and our seeing. I just know there was a lot of cussing
around those little cup like sacs that looked oddly
the shape of testicles. Once I thanked my father
for always taking me fishing. He laughed out loud.
You are joking, right? Your mother made me take you,
to give her a break.” I was one of his punishments
as I later found out—he was a cheater too.

About Rosemary Freedman: “I am married and have seven children. I have a B.A. in creative writing and literature, and a master's in nursing education, a post-masters as a Nurse Practitioner and a post-masters as a Clinical Nurse Specialist. When I am not writing poetry, I work as an advanced practice nurse.”