Fishing on the Susquehanna in July

Billy Collins

 
I have never been fishing on the Susquehanna
or on any river for that matter
to be perfectly honest.
Not in July or any month
have I had the pleasure--if it is a pleasure--
of fishing on the Susquehanna.
I am more likely to be found
in a quiet room like this one--
a painting of a woman on the wall,
a bowl of tangerines on the table--
trying to manufacture the sensation
of fishing on the Susquehanna.
There is little doubt
that others have been fishing
on the Susquehanna,
rowing upstream in a wooden boat,
sliding the oars under the water
then raising them to drip in the light.
But the nearest I have ever come to
fishing on the Susquehanna
was one afternoon in a museum in Philadelphia
when I balanced a little egg of time
in front of a painting
in which that river curled around a bend
under a blue cloud-ruffled sky,
dense trees along the banks,
and a fellow with a red bandanna
sitting in a small, green
flat-bottom boat
holding the thin whip of a pole.
That is something I am unlikely
ever to do, I remember
saying to myself and the person next to me.
Then I blinked and moved on
to other American scenes
of haystacks, water whitening over rocks,
even one of a brown hare
who seemed so wired with alertness
I imagined him springing right out of the frame.
 
From Picnic, Lightning by Billy Collins. Copyright © 1998 by Billy Collins. Reprinted by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press. All rights reserved.

Poems by This Author

Forgetfulness by Billy Collins
The name of the author is the first to go
Some Days by Billy Collins
Some days I put the people in their places at the table
The First Night by Billy Collins
Before I opened you, Jiménez
The Golden Years by Billy Collins
All I do these drawn-out days
Workshop by Billy Collins
I might as well begin by saying how much I like the title


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