Lighter Side
April 30th, 2001

Grasshopper-hands
By Dave Motes

When I frist saw my Grandpa's stream, it was wrong.
He led me proudly to the creek -
it was on his land, after all, and land was the pride of these old,
who had watched their land blow into dusk then recede
in the rearviews of a model A.

But to me, in these high sharp mountains for the first time,
the water was all wrong.
It was too shallow and rushing, too temporary.
It startled my familiar southern lake, jarred the dark sluggish streams
I had learned, flooded some rich marsh-stinking bays I knew.
I couldn't believe that a fish would live in it.

I couldn't cope with this water. It was out of my sense,
like it must have been to see restless seed blown out of fields
that had always make grain, to have parching wind whittle your traditions to an edge.

But Grandpa sat by the tree, an old farmer jealous of shade,
smiling and comfortable.
He knew nothing of fish but his experience included young
boys with narrow hopes.
He let me eddy there a moment, then got creaking to his feet
and began wading the grass, striking with his hat at shadows.

I couldn't notice that. This hasty river defied my will to try.
I looked deeply at it and saw nothing in my line.
Against the cliff wall was deeper water, but impossible,
surging in sudden planes and bowls,
curved over here and there in stationary stacks.
that stand and tumble in the speed, and in the margin at my feet
it courses in wheels of whirl along river-rounded stones.
There were no fish in it at all, and I was doomed to an empty summer.

I turned to where my grandfather had gone insane. He lurched and
staggered in the meadow grass, flapping with his hat, now crouching,
grasping, cured; straightened again and walked to me
bowlegged, really a stranger, this quiet man of thrift and difficulty.

He walked up to me and showed me his hands, dry and brown,
crossed with the shadows of old scars,
nails ringed like curling chips of hardwood -
then from a fist emerged a grasshopper.

He held it gently, walked to the river, and tossed it in.
It bounced along past us, then curved around a breaking stone,
and in the flashing silver splash that took it,
and that grasshopper opened my summer up
and cleared my eyes to the value of people who have done things
and would love to show you how.

We'd team up. Grandad would beat through the dusty grass,
batting down grasshoppers with his steady hands,
not quick but patient, and there are enough grasshoppers for that.
He'd bring one to me and I'd hook it through,toss it out,
and sometimes catch a trout from those wild rushing creeks.

Sometimes we'd sit and talk about things he'd seen,
about how the land had blown away, how his father had sung
as they left Kansas, how his grandfather, exhausted by picking lettuce,
had laughed when the children first saw an orange growing on a tree.
I didn't listen enough, of course; I was there for the fishing, and
12-year-olds have little patience for stories
when brown trout are taking grasshoppers. ~ Dave Motes


About Dave Motes


Home for Dave is Oakton, Virginia where he is a high school English teacher and Fly fishing instructor and guide with Mark Kovach Fishing Services on the upper Potomac River near Harper's Ferry, WVA. He is married with a five-year old son, and fishes both salt and freshwater for trout and bass, stripers, but mostly smallmouth from Alabama to Minnesota.

Other Poems:

River Bed by Dave Motes
Canyon's coming -- Gunnison by Dave Motes
The Flyline by Dave Motes
Rising Spirits by Dave Salamone
Shadow Jungle or Pike? by Dave Motes
The Fish by Elizabeth Bishop
The Ongoing Saga of Castwell and Ladyfisher by Randy Fratzke
Not My Own by Dave Salamone
Plunge Pool Brookie by Dave Motes
Breaking by Dave Motes
White Miller by John Engels
A Fisherman Reflects (A Tribute to Lee Wulff) by Bob Jacklin
Fly Box by H. Wheeler Perce
When Dreams Are Cast by Dave P. Salamone
Upon the Morn by David Salamone
The Disconnections by John Engels
Damselfly, Trout, Heron by John Engels
Why I Fly-Fish by Ernie Harrison
Oh, what a Day by David P. Salamone
Memories of More than One by David P. Salamone
Mudtrapped by John Engels
What I Leave Behind by David P. Salamone
The Way It Was by Ernie Harrison
Awakening by David P. Salamone
Eros Tyrannos by James Armstrong
Genesee River by David P. Salamone
There Is More by Ken Abrames
New York by David P. Salamone
Reflection by David P. Salamone
Last Waltz by David P. Salamone
Equanimity by Ken Abrames
Deadpool by John Engels
Fly Fishing by Tony Grenier
This Earth by Gwen Frostic
On Waters' Edge by D.P. Salamone
Truth or Tale? by D.P.Salamone
When Rod and Line Again Appear by D.P.Salamone
Too Soon by D.P.Salamone
In Golden Light by D.P. Salamone
The Switch by D.P. Salamone
At Night On The River by John Engles
Rainbows False-Spawning by John Engles
Hatch by John Engels
My Choice by Geno Loro
Falling In by John Engles
The Guardian of the Lakes at Notre Dame by John Engels
Foote Brook by John Engels
Looking For Water by John Engels
Gutting Bluefish by John Engels
The Storm by John Engles
Muskrat by John Engels
Thunder River by John Engels
Forever by D.P. Salamone
Aquarium by John Engels
Bass by Fred Mather
The Crows by John Engles
To Love a Stream by F. Thomas
Opening Day, 1997 by F.Thomas
Pewter River Haiku by Louis J. Wentz
My Highlight of Fly Fishing by D.P. Salamone
So Complicated But Simple Life by D.P. Salamone
Fly Fishing by W.J. Mallory
Here's to the Girl - by Sherman Ripley
Age Lessening by D.P. Salamone
Spring Fever by AF Westervelt
FlyTying by W.J. Mallory
FAOL Fish-In Friendship by D.P. Salamone
Acronyms by D.P. Salamone
Signs of a Highway by W.J. Mallory
Drift Fishing by W.J. Mallory
A Hunters Poem unknown
In Flander's Fields by John McCrae
Lonesome Coho by W.J. Mallory
The Marshes At Suamico, Wisconsin by John Engles
East Middlebury by John Engles
The Raft by John Engles
Eternal Father (Navy Hymn)
Pilgrimage by John Engles
Testament of a Fisheman by Robert Traver
At Night On the Lake In The Eye of the Hunter by John Engles
Indulgence on the Wharfe by Gordon M. Wickstrom
G     n Creek by W.J. Mallory
The Song of Wandering Aengus by William Butler Yates
The Au Sable by W.J. Mallory
You're On the Miramichi by William T. Griffin
The Photograph by John Engles
Flye Fishing by L A Garcia
Green Bay Flies by John Engles
T.R.O.U.T. by DP Salamone
Beyond The Fly by DP Salamone
Hemingway, You Old Bear by Joseph Heywood
Individuality by Gwen Frostic
Wa'al I'll be Durn by Francis H. Buzzacott
The Salmon Leap by Francis H. Buzzacott
The Old Bass Ground by Francis H. Buzzacott
When the Bull-Heads Bite by Francis H. Buzzacott
A Photo of My Mother and My Grandpa Lighting Out by John Engles
The Last Day by Deanna Lee Birkholm
The North Branch by John Engles
A Military Christmas unknown
Calendar-spring by David Motes
The Fly Box by John Engles
Game Warden's Lament
author unknown
Big Water by John Engles
The Best Kept Fishing Secret by Andy Hogan
While fly-fishing by Brian Nerney
On Common Water by Andy Hogan
The Last Cast by Andy Hogan
(unknown) by Alfred Lord Tennison
A Good Fight by Andy Hogan
The Bonny Red Heckle North Country Fisher's Garland
This Here Hat's Fer Fishin by Andy Hogan
Un-named By Westwood
Potomac Water Gap by David Motes
More Beyond Time by Gwen Frostic
Grasshopper-hands by David Motes
When Did We Go To The Michigan Woods? by Anna C. Brackett
Behold the Fisherman! unknown
Freedom Isn't Free unknown
From: Beyond Time By Gwen Frostic
Legend of Glooskap By Arthur Wentworth Eaton
Rainbow Rising By David Motes
Fly With A Gull By Gwen Frostic
Self-Knowledge By Kahlil Gibran
The Invitation By Percy Bysshe Shelley
Untitled By Charles Cotton
A Pleasant Time Out By Stoddard
The Brook By Lord Tennyson
Unnamed By W.Pinkerton
The Auld Fisher's Farewell to the River Coquet By Thomas Doubleday
Excerpt from Beyond Time By Gwen Frostic
Words You Never Tell a Guide By Joseph Haywood
Mind Farts & Memory Exercises By Joseph Haywood
First Night at Camp Fish Head By Joseph Haywood
I Am the Flag of the United States of America
Untitled By Whitier
The Fisherman By Jack Schweigert
Retail Night Before Christmas By Al Campbell
Splitting Oak on Motherís Day By Joe Heywood
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Fly Rod By Eugena Pilek
In Flanders Fields By John McCrae
Fisherman's Luck By Edward R. Hewitt
Happy Turkey Day By Al Campbell
The Story of The Christmas Guest By Helen Steiner Rice
Fishing By Edith Andrews Sturgis
August 25, 1971 - Jocko River above Arlee, Montana By Brian Ahern
Mr. Cortland By Cole Martin
Fishing By Edith Andrews Sturgis
A Midwinter Reflection By Russ Larsen (Bassbugg)
Christmas Bells By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
A Trout Angler's Prayer At Christmas By Reverend Daniel P. Adams
An Old Scottish Poem
Voices in the Wall, Requiem 3 By Stev Lenon
In Honor of Memorial Day 2006
Little Brown Wink By G.E.M. Skues
In Flanders Fields By John McCrae
The Little Things By Richard A. (Dick) Taylor


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