An Old Man Fishing


I went down to the river’s edge

And asked the Old Man fishing there

“Why do you sit and wait for the fish to be caught?”

He didn’t respond and seemed to settle

In deeper just staring out

Across the water sitting quiet and still.

I asked him again thinking he had not

Heard me and I stood by his side as I asked

“Why waste your time sitting and waiting

For the fish to be caught? The market is

Just up the street full of fish for the buying.”

He adjusted his body planting it more firmly

On the edge of a bank where water ran strong and deep.

Annoyed by his ignoring me and feeling quite intent I

Sat down right next to him and looked full at his profile

Of jaw set with determination and eyes straight ahead.

I looked at the water and saw no fish in sight

Just gurgling and flowing at a steady strong pace.

I looked out farther and saw the stillness

Held in the center of fluid space and wondered

How deep these waters reached and what mysteries

Lay silently hidden from sight.

I looked out to the distance of opposite shoreline

Movement of others like tiny dots moving in a fabric

Of sky and space.

There were no words I could speak the peace was so

Profound as the water carried out and away all thoughts

That were not needed and all action that was wasted breath.

The Old Man had turned towards me his gaze gentle and calm

And a smile of newfound understanding spread like sun’s

Rising across my face as he handed me his fishing rod and

Rose from his place of sitting leaving me quiet and still

Sitting on that river’s edge.

A young boy came up to me as I sat in this place and I

Felt the weight of his shadow and he said quite excitedly…

“Why do you sit and wait for the fish to be caught?”

By Robin Fennelly