Never the same river twice

You want a place you love to stay the same forever. You want the people to be there—the same. The coffee brewing in the kitchen–the same. The old black rotary phone on the recessed shelf in the hallway by the bath, a dial tone still on the phone…the same number…same area code, the ring and click of each digit a reminder of the years of calling home.

The slow, even tick of the clock on the wall in the kitchen, a heartbeat.

Uncle Weaver comes through from the back porch, careful to close, not slam, the screen door or Mamaw will give him what-for, careful to extract yesterday’s brisket and beans from the ice box.

Girl, he says to me, you wanna go fishing?

Always.

We get down to The Land and drive the pickup down across the field to where the river runs. The cows regard us with sleepy suspicion.

He has already begun asking me if I think the alligator will be lurking in the shallows by the red cedar.

All the rivers in Texas run to the sea all with their pretty names, women and saints with hibiscus flowers in their hair–Trinity, and Guadalupe, and Sabine and Angelina.

He hands me stuff–tackle box and styrofoam bucket full of minnows. I wonder what would happen if we just let them all go free. Do we even like to eat fish? We come for other things.

You don’t realize till afterward that the story telling is a blood and bones thing, that it is a piece of him and will be a piece of you. That the danger is in who you tell and how you tell it, that facts are immaterial and always have been. That fishing for nothing and fishing for significance are both activities that do not require a license.

Only what you catch and hold and skin and kill requires the intervention of the state.

Never mind that anyway, girl, he says, this is private property here. A testament to what happens when rich men have only daughters.

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