A wise and loving father fishing with his two sons. Norman Maclean wrote about a time like that in his book “A River Runs Through It,” and here’s a poem by Todd Davis that catches much the same feeling in far fewer words. That’s not to denigrate Maclean but to point out that there are many ways for us to write about our lives. The poet lives in Pennsylvania and this poem is from his book “Native Species,” published by Michigan State University Press.

Thankful for Now

Walking the river back home at the end

of May, locust in bloom, an oriole flitting

through dusky crowns, and the early night sky

going peach, day’s late glow the color of that fruit’s

flesh, dribbling down over everything, christening

my sons, the two of them walking before me

after a day of fishing, one of them placing a hand

on the other’s shoulder, pointing toward a planet

that’s just appeared, or the swift movement

of that yellow and black bird disappearing

into the growing dark, and now the light, pink

as a crabapple’s flower, and my legs tired

from wading the higher water, and the rocks

that keep turning over, nearly spilling me

into the river, but still thankful for now

when I have enough strength to stay

a few yards behind them, loving this time

of day that shows me the breadth

of their backs, their lean, strong legs

striding, how we all go on in this cold water,

heading home to the sound of the last few

trout splashing, as mayflies float

through the shadowed riffles.


We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2019 by Todd Davis, “Thankful for Now,” from Native Species, (Michigan State University Press, 2019). Poem reprinted by permission of Todd Davis and the publisher. Introduction copyright @2019 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.