I’m up front watching for logs, Conrad at the wheel. 
In the middle seat, my daughter, bored already, 
no screen to keep her mind busy, 
fussing with the straps of her life jacket.
She wants to give names to all the minnows. 
She hasn’t seen what we do with the hook. 

A heron rises slow and prehistoric
and crosses the lake, complaining all the way.
Finger-bone stumps rise out of the water.
We tie off to one, slip a hook through a minnow — 
my daughter cries on cue — and cast our lines.

Hours. Untie, cruise and drift. 
Crappie aren’t biting, or we have
the wrong bait. So we cast close to the bank
hoping to scare up some bluegill.

Still better than a good day at work, 
Conrad always says, and I always laugh,
and because I’m laughing, she laughs, too.
Tap-tap, the bobber dances, then goes under,
a big hit, ten-inch white crappie — at least
there’ll be something for her to remember. 

Gray clouds move in, there’s a devil of a storm 
brewing above the tree line. 
It pushes a welcome cool breeze across the lake.
Now it’s a race for the dock and to get off the water:
she drags her fingers through the wake.