The Dirigible Balloon
Poetry for Children

My Father Knows the Fish by Name

Listen to Jennifer read her poem ...
He stands thigh high in the river and waits.
Water rushes by his mud-brown waders.
A crow cried overhead, but Father doesn’t hear.
He listens for something deep.

Brown trout and rainbow
Glide beneath the water,
Shadows below the silver ripples.
Father hears their song.

Zwwit Zwwit, the line flashes overhead
This way and that.
It lays itself down, a thin, puckering seam
Almost invisible on the water.
At the seam’s end floats a fuzzy fly.
The shadow rises to meet it, then it’s gone.

Back and forth, the song becomes a dance.
Father lets line out as it darts into the deep.
The reel clicks slowly, and the fish returns.
The rod points to a dark flicker beneath the water.
The dance is almost over.

Father cups his hand in the water and brings up the fish,
Sparkling in the sunshine.
“A rainbow,” he says and holds it out for me to see.
It lies there, wide-eyed, its gills ruffling with each gasp.
The rainbow arc along its side glimmers
Green and blue and yellow like oil on asphalt.

I touch its slick scales, careful not to hurt the oily surface
Father tenderly slides the hook from its mouth.
When he lowers his hand, the fish darts away

And becomes a shadow once more.

This poem first appeared in Cricket Magazine

About the Writer

Jennifer Bohnhoff

Jennifer remembers fishing with her father when she was a little girl. She remembers the sounds of a fly-fishing rod swishing through the air. She is now an adult who lives in the mountains of central New Mexico, where she write historical and contemporary fiction, mostly for middle grade readers.