July: “So Long It’s Been Good to Know Yuh.” –Woody Guthrie

I discovered the poem below just now; it has “July” in its title and it’s a lovely poem by our former U.S.A. Poet Laureate (2001-2003), Billy Collins.

Fishing on the Susquehanna in July

  by Billy Collins  

 I have never been fishing on the Susquehanna

or on any river for that matter

to be perfectly honest.

 Not in July or any month

have I had the pleasure–if it is a pleasure–

of fishing on the Susquehanna.

 I am more likely to be found

in a quiet room like this one–

a painting of a woman on the wall,

 a bowl of tangerines on the table–

trying to manufacture the sensation

of fishing on the Susquehanna.

 There is little doubt

that others have been fishing

on the Susquehanna,

 rowing upstream in a wooden boat,

sliding the oars under the water

then raising them to drip in the light.

 But the nearest I have ever come to

fishing on the Susquehanna

was one afternoon in a museum in Philadelphia

 when I balanced a little egg of time

in front of a painting

in which that river curled around a bend

 under a blue cloud-ruffled sky,

dense trees along the banks,

and a fellow with a red bandanna

 sitting in a small, green

flat-bottom boat

holding the thin whip of a pole.

 That is something I am unlikely

ever to do, I remember

saying to myself and the person next to me.

 Then I blinked and moved on

to other American scenes

of haystacks, water whitening over rocks,

 even one of a brown hare

who seemed so wired with alertness

I imagined him springing right out of the frame.

 I’ve never been on the Susquehanna River. It looks beautiful. My brother used to love the solitude of fishing and when my kids were young, he would take them fishing. I miss him. He died way too young about 20 years ago at age 45. His life wasn’t easy, but he always knew he had the love of his family and taught my kids to say in unison at a very young age in a sing-song voice, “What’s the most important thing? Family!” 

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