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Caught Up This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

We piled into the big red Ford truck
as those initial solar spears glinted off its fresh high-gloss paint
and the first warmth of the summer's day was eagerly shaken off by its air
conditioner.

Block-lugged tires roar across the
dew-stained pavement,
and then jerk sideways across a
bramble-ridden trail.
We crawl along, steadily conquering
nature's feeble hooked barriers as though
they were only twine. The brambles open like a gate and our rumbling
beast of burden enters a grassy clearing,
our target finally facing us:

The pond is innocent enough, sitting
serenely between the field and a stand
of mangled but strangely
stoic oak trees, a few windswept leaves
from last autumn forming a minuscule flotillas on its surface.
We unsheathe from the truck bed our
implements,
a box of barbed hooks and flashy tablets of copper and steel and painted wood, and
five Ugly Sticks, reels well-tended and
lines untangled.

Making haste, setting our lures in the crystal water as fast as we can;
I'm only old enough to know rudimentary casting, and it shows
though skill with a rod isn't bringing any success to my companions.
Hours pass as the rods flick every variety
of bait in turn:
worms, flashers, and even crudely
thrown flies.

In the face of total dismay, we ready the truck and load up discarded cans,
wrappers and
a spread of lawn chairs.
Woefully I toss my lure out one last time,
as voices impatiently call me back to
the truck.
In youthful optimism I sit on the bank,
waiting for hopes beyond hope to be
realized.

And then they are: the line yanks taut and suddenly the reel twirls away, spitting line
for my apparent prey to wrap among
underwater forests and mires.
As the rod's tip snaps skyward in my hand, the calls from the purring truck change,
guiding hands steady my adrenaline-rattled shoulders.
Now I'm gaining on the squirmy bugger,
under their guidance,
and the line comes back dripping from
the water.
I feel, finally, the fish surrendering.
I see silver scales shining and pooling
terror in the eyes,
and the essence of my conquest is apparent:
the forces of nature's resistance overcome like brush beneath the force
of human tenacity.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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