I Have to Write a One-Paragraph Response to This Poem Can You Give Me a Brief Idea?

Question by : I have to write a one-paragraph response to this poem can you give me a brief idea?
A Fisheries Scientist And His Father,
The Preacher, Gather Salmon

I

Monofilament whisked through rod-guides
as we pitched our spinners across the cold.
Sea-bright cohos struck our hooks almost every cast,
shoaled and on the bite at low tide.
But Dad practiced bad Presbyterian,
bad Scots, busting off one costly lure
after another because he tied lousy knots
and fishing line weakens
when improperly folded and crimped.
Strike after strike
Dad’s poorly thrown seizing popped from the swivel.
We watched each salmon bolt or glide
into shadow with a gold blade
glinting from its jaw, a flash stabbing the dark.

I couldn’t count the times I’d taught the Old Man
the modified jamb knot, strongest for terminal gear,
made him bow his head over my hands and follow
as I wrapped, looped through twice, then paused
before saying, ‘Always draw both
ends of the line taut.
A kink or a slack spot in your stack of bends
will lower your breaking threshold.’
But I preached my sermons on tensile strength
when a bite was on or a salmon had just rolled
near the surface, glimmering its broad side.
Frantic to cast, his attention wavered
while adrenaline jittered his hands
and his knots couldn’t hold the cohos he struck.

II

We plied our gear while clouds
drifted shaggy from the Gulf of Alaska to snag
fleece in wisps on the shoulders of the fjord,
softening the north scarp.
Dad and I had threaded our skiff through drizzle
to work the estuary at the back of Katlian Bay, drawn
by spawners drawn, in turn, to the snow
melt and rain water that beget
Katlian River. Our day was so stilled
that each time a lure
punched through the skin of the bay
the slight thunk traveled to our ears
like whispered affirmation:
we were not nothing,
tiny as we were.

Anchored at the edge of the sea-
drowned valley, the mountains shoving close and steep,
we swung our treble hooks away from us
like little, iron prayers cast into that dark
from which one more generation of cohos
coalesced toward their birthstream.
And the rain hung gracefully over us.
And the forest crowded the mountainside down to our anchorage.
And spruce and hemlock slung their boughs above the tideline,
curved as if gillnets needle-worked and strung to gather drizzle.

III

The Old Man whooped again, setting the hook,
then slumped, line gone slack. Again. He cussed
his luck softly, blinded by his wanting,
unable to see the gracelessness of his knots.

Several ravens arrived, as if a session of presbyters
assembling in the trees we’d anchored by,
alert to scavenge fish viscera.
Sleek in their feathered vestments, the bird-
elders chorused from green pulpits, the limbs
of Sitka spruce. They chanted their counsel
as if to scold him for the big one that got away.

Presbyterian as hell, Dad had always extolled
Grace, his pulpit a casting platform,
his sanctuary a place of capture and release,
the hands of the Angler gentle
in the easing of iron from a stung jaw.
But there, beside the Katlian estuary, he allowed
the taste of denied prayer to sour in his mouth,
watching me as I horsed
yet another spawner to us.

IV

‘Bring back a big one!’
All through my fishing life
that’s what the Old Man had called at my back.
I’d shoulder my heaviest flyrod
and slouch down to the family skiff, smoldering
with the righteousness of a catch-and-release angler.
A meat fisherman, and a Scot who needed
to justify the cost of our small boat,
he’d call, ‘Bring back a big one!’
even though he hated to eat fish.
Dad never saw that I consecrated my own blood with salt
water, that I learned to reap my own life by releasing
the living silver scaled in the flank of a spawner.

The Old Man had only trolled bait-herring
and had butchered every one of the few fish he’d landed
through all those years in which I’d taught myself
the higher rituals of an angler’s faith,
how to dress a barbless hook with feather and silk,
how to present my artificial to a water
as impenetrable as hammered metal,
how to dance my streamer past sockeye or coho
and receive the lightly controlled connection to the dark,
the same dark that pulses through salmon blood and human nerve,
how to unhook my prey without harm,
holding each fish upright and gilling
until recovered enough to swim from the cradle
I had made of my hands.

Now,
no matter how hard
I whocked my gaff into gill plates,
my father’s knots would not hold.

And with every spawner I yarded to boatside,
and with each swift swing of the fish pick,
my tine pierced the rain that molded itself to our faces,
the same rain that had veiled my years of practice, years
rehearsing a family of bindings,
barrel knot, blood knot, each jamb knot
pulled into crisp strength, a nylon c

Best answer:

Answer by Richard B
Hello Mo,

Your teacher has saddled you with a tough one. This piece is long and filled with niche language such as the fishing technicalities and clan references. Basically, it is a story about an upside-down Father-Son relationship where the son is wise and the father bumbling. There is much more here, such as the racially inspired cliche references to Scots (people from Scotland, not Scotch, which is a drink) and the Presbyter.

You can figure this out. Read it (however painful) two or three more times and it will click.

RB

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One Response to “I Have to Write a One-Paragraph Response to This Poem Can You Give Me a Brief Idea?”

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  1. Seaman says:

    i wonder what is the point of reversing the natural situation in real life where the wiser or the older seaman or even fisher man is supposed to be passing his knowledge due to his years of experience

    here the writer is reversing it which doesn’t make sense
    as even when this happens in real life between two seamen when one for example is younger yet more educated for example because of being a maritime collage graduate or what ever and he finds himself in a position of passing a piece of knowledge to an older seaman … and i am speaking of more complicated issues that could concern navigational situations in the middle of a storm or serious trouble with the ship` s machinery during a critical situation … certainly not how to tie a knot !

    in this case the younger seaman passes this information yet with a level of respect in case he was doing that towards a colleague … so how about in case of a Father

    who ever wrote this has nothing to do with life at sea