The Journey
by Denis O'Neill


It's almost the same,
but we're older.
Boys trapped in wizened skin,
handbacks blotched
by sun and wind.
For forty years we have fished
an annual gathering
drawn to water like divining rods,
seasoned by friendship,
shaped by ritual,
in Montana —
where the seasons are
ten months of winter
and two months of company,
including ours.
We have a book of pictures
showing us doing the same things
when life lay longer ahead,
and the end of it all
seemed not so near.
Unlike salmon, we won't perish
all at once, at the end of
our journey.
We are more like the autumn leaves
of the cottonwoods
that line the rivers we fish.
We will fall from life's limbs
gold as the golden years
they say we are living.
We don't talk about it,
but we know it's so.
Someone will be first,
and someone will be last,
and then the limbs will be bare.
A process unspoken,
but not unpondered.


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