His teeth are bothering him
so he has me bite the little lead weights
onto the line. This is a serious task
and I do it with the respect it deserves,
contemplating the marks I leave in the soft metal.
They have to be tight enough they don't spin around,
but instead grip the nylon line firmly, at the place
he indicates, this far above the hook.
Years later, with my own boys,
I'm still gripping that line firmly,
and just as he placed no importance on the act,
I never know which moments will be meaningful
to them, the ones they will bite down on
because I no longer can.
It's enough, I think, that I can reach down
and lay a hand on his shoulder, as if to say,
I'm here, you're part of my life. There's so much
I could and want to tell him, but know that there
are no words to make him understand.
I have lived too long where there are no words.
I have put too little value on common things,
and it's left me with no vocabulary.
As if my English were a foreign tongue.
-- a poem, also from that 1996 notebook