The Stick

The Stick

Dawn is doing dawn, breaking its yolk. At the bank of the Trinity there is oneness. It is in small part, about the destiny of a conifer branch, cracked in an early winter’s wind. At the shoreline, its rhythm laps at the graveled bank, bald as a drumstick, thick as a child’s innocent wrist. It’s not a Sequoia or a cursed sliver.

Today the weather is perfect, the blood of the river and sky cerulean. Rouge and white cumuli bloat and huddle the smokestack grey horizon, then deliberately diesel west in the direction of the sea song Pacific, railing toward Japan, clean out of site. But today is not about the weather, or a celestial train track full of clouds.

Nor is it about reverence, devotion or loyalty. Not really, though tomorrow expects–no demands that.

My eyes grow anemic, cautious. The currents are a deluge of ribbons and fins, sweaty viscous, dorsal and caudal. The river is swollen, thick with chevron scales that drift and shimmer, iridescent mirrors of rainbows and browns. Discarded in drift, they cleave shards that glisten in the silver light of sunrise.

Though this is early morning, we are not here to tie dry or wet flies, or pierce barnacle larvae with number twelve, barbless hooks. And we won’t need the woven fish creel in the back of the Chevy pickup. They’ll be plenty of time this summer to strap on a caned basket and cinch up the Orvis waders. I can do that alone.


How exquisitely the water cracks. The sound is an iceberg calving. Underwater, I imagine a free-for-all, a variable fish rodeo, all hell breaking loose. It’s the exact time eternity intends this morning begins.

Again, and again, she begs. She’s shameless.

Once tired, she’s only willing to compromise.

I can read her mind. “Can we stop when the river dries up?


Later that night in front of our last winter fire: red ambers, a pop, a crackle, a twitch. We dream of oceans full of exhausted sticks.

A week later is when I put her down.

Dan Cardoza has an MS Degree in Counseling from CSU, Sacramento. His fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have been published internationally. Most recently in 45th Parallel, BlazeVOX, Bull, Cleaver, Coffin Bell, Deep Overstock, Door=Jar, Dream Noir, Entropy, Gravel, Literary Heist, Mystery Tribune, New Flash Fiction Review, Poetry Northwest, and Spelk.


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