Did Not Get Away

Writing Inspiration

I finally found some important photographs I had taken to school along with the Northern Pike that now holds a special spot in my home after spending many years as a tale and conversation at my cousin’s place, Totten Trail in Coleharbor, ND. That’s sold now— and my cousin’s saved the trophy for my memories atop the bookcases, along with his fishing hat.

Anyway, I found the newspaper photo and Dad’s certificate— saved with the special papers and pictures as they should be.

My parents spent spring, summer, and fall enjoying their favorite fishing spots along the Missouri River, places near home in Bismarck and north near Garrison where my Uncle Dee lives still at age 95. And years ago when he was younger, my dad also fished in winter— ice fishing with their little shed. No, I did not go, nor did my mom. 🙂

I spent many weekends with cousins in the North Dakota heat along the river and reservoir as my parents and my aunts and uncles fished and camped together. We played cards and games of tag, and explored the North Dakota prairie. Occasionally we got to swim— but not usually because that would scare away the fish. Ha. My family were such avid fisher people that we went fishing even when I had the mumps— me sleeping in the back of the little dodge station wagon while every one else enjoyed themselves. Don’t worry— I was always cared for, monitored, and hydrated. Obviously, I survived.

Even my grandparents fished as well as farmed — and I found this note – a fish story — written by my grandmother for the local paper about my dad.

There’s so much here I could write into poetry, but what I want to share is how important these little things we leave behind are— to those still here. My dad had many friends and many fish stories. This record fish was but one— but it was one that held a place of honor at the local “fishing hole” where families gathered after a day at the river or lake, to share the stories of the day. And this fish began many stories and memories of my dad long after he returned to the great fishing heaven.

On May 18, 1981– long after I’d left home— this Northern Pike did not get away. It was such a big event for our family that I conflate the date with Mount St Helen’s eruption— a year before on May 18, 1980.

And so, a poem— simple story of the things we leave behind.

I wrote the poem on the picture from Totten Trail, a poem to share that we hold our loved ones forever in our memories.


Did Not Get Away

Joyful memories
of a fisherman’s tale
held in plaque and hat.

Sheri Edwards
041222 103.365.22

Writing Process

Sometimes, a poem needs context and so my memory write above— the inspiration— needed to be placed on paper— blog— to get all the “before” parts down, so when I look up at the Northern Pike and dad’s hat, I see all of that. Then I could write the “after,”— the essence of keeping memories alive and leaving the things that keep the memory alive. My dad and his stories brought joy to so many friends and family. That was my first line. And those memories become more stories every time we looked at what he left behind. That become the last two lines.

Oh yeah, there are tears, but tears glad for something to hold on to. Tell the stories now.

Your Turn

Family stories— like the one my grandmother wrote are so fun to share over and over. This is something to write but perhaps not publish—- just keep a journal of your day, of the stories shared, and read them over. Soon, some of those will become more generalized as a human story that you can write about in a poem, like my haiku. You didn’t need to know all of the history to enjoy the haiku. But as a writing teacher and mom and daughter, I wrote this out for you and for my family to see what’s possible and how our hearts hold on to both the joy and the sorrow through sharing together.

So consider a fun family story, change the names and the places to “protect the innocent” and “fictionize” it as a story with a poem at the end. My students wrote a slice of life or poem on most days— they loved that as a first “free write” of the day. But we had one important rule if they published a story or poem on their blog— change the names and places to prevent personal identification and protect privacy. Still a story to enjoy. A slice of life. A poem of life. Just written with care for privacy in mind.