Reminders of Pap

I stick my head through the makeshift sunroof 
of my dad’s 1998 Jeep Cherokee 

chucking empty Pabst Blue Ribbon bottles 
into the freshly churned-up field below. 

My mind eases back to sitting on the porch 
swing with you every summer as you downed 

a six-pack and gave me a quarter every 
time I’d run to the fridge to get you another. 
	
Devin cranks up some Metallica 
and I can feel the one good speaker vibrating 

through the chipping rust, shedding a trail 
behind us like withering rose petals for you to follow.

Our tackle-boxes clank in the back, tossing 
open the Cool Whip container full of meal worms. 

I spit a clump of hair out of my mouth 
as a black sea of starlings synchronically glides off a phone line 

as though they were ballroom dancing, 
speeding then slowing, trying to mimic the others swift movements.

They form a light shadow over us, damn invaders 
you’d say. They’d peck open your beloved robin eggs in the crab apple.  

Right there’s the spot, in the middle of a family of old hemlocks.
We pull off to the side of the road and jump out.
				
Devin opens up the back-hatch and mumbles something about 
tangled lines or rusty hooks.
				
Cut right through the hemlocks to the opening in the middle.
The water reflects our still figures 
				
Devin throws out the first cast of the day, 
I look at him and murmur nice spot just like you would
				
even if it was shitty. Within a couple seconds,
he flings up a dark spotted trout with a hazy pink line 
running across its body. It didn’t jolt or move, 
like it was in some way, deciding its own last breath. 
				
Day by day is what you wrote in cursive 
on a peach stained napkin in the hospital when you decided.

By Olivia Kretchman