I wish the phone would ring

and it would be you

saying I got bait today,

it’s not too sloppy,

let’s leave the dock at 5 a.m.

and go over to the Elizabeths

to that spot we found last week

where we caught our limit

in an hour. Then you teased Buddy

on the radio until he left Nomans

and came over to help his fancy clients

reel in some Stripers.

I wish you’d say to invite Sol and Bob —

better fishermen than I’ll ever be —

to go with us.

I wish I’d be able to get on the Auklet

from the bow, remembering to always

hold onto metal, and get into my favorite

first mate’s seat, despite my so-so eyesight

and unsteady feet. I wish I could

set my binoculars on the dashboard

with the strap wrapped around my water bottle

like that spot would be mine forever.

I wish I’d remember to bring a cooler

to chill the filets you cut for us

back on the dock. I wish I could loan you

the book about the Pilar

and tease you about thinking

you are Hemingway’s ghost.

I wish you weren’t a ghost.

  — In memory of Flip Harrington