The Crimson Damselfly

Maybe I’ll wait forever. Men come to me offering the world for my love. But I cannot truly love them. None of them has yet known the answer.

How do you make a Crimson Damselfly? I ask. The best say simply, give it wings, which is a good answer in the face of ignorance. Others check Google, but they won’t find out there. And there are those who say, hmmm, lets see. I know. Get a damselfly and then… and they perform the last bit. Whack. They have no idea.

Tony, at least, asked for time to find out so I spent a year with him until he gave up. I stayed with Serge too, travelling, always laughing. He promised he’d give me an answer by the end of the year. But the year came and went.


When I was a girl I’d creep to the den if Dad was down there. Even though I’d be as quiet as a mouse, and even though he never looked up or saw me, Dad would say, Nina, is that you?

I’d pull up the spare chair and watch as he worked away. Each fly would take him hours, binding, twisting, shaping, colouring. After all that work he might snag it first cast and lose it or fish all day with it and never catch a thing until he changed to a cheap one from the tackle shop. It didn’t matter to him. What mattered as he worked away, was that every river he’d ever fished came back to him and I’d sit in the shadow off to the side of his workbench while he painted pictures of beautiful wild places so vivid they invited me in. He’d time his stories to finish just as he was putting on the finishing touches. Then he’d hold his delicate lure against the light and say, see, Nina, the secret is to think like a fish. That’s how you make a Crimson Damselfly.

I know I’ll always be a trout fisher’s daughter, happy alone in the flow of a stream. And the best times I’ll ever have are past me already, in the clutter of our suburban basement with my quiet, methodical father and the stories of the rivers of his mind.

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