Defining self. A fascinating proposition. Who am I? Am I my name? I have a couple, which one is me? As you can imagine Winnie and Edwina are not the same person at all. I write under several pen names as well. Is one of those really me? Do I define myself by what I do? I am a poet. I am a writer. I am an editor. Do I define myself by what I love? I am a dancer. I am a Stratford Shakespearean. I am a lover of Celtic Music. Do I describe myself by my imaginations whirls? I am an aspen dryad. I am otter. I am twenty to thirty characters stranded in various predicaments in sundry halves of novels and pieces of short stories .I am the three hundred and sixty others that are in my mind trying to make their way to the page. Do I define myself by my harsh reality? I am a diabetic. I am an asthmatic. I am a Fibromyalgia patient, an arthritic, a migraine sufferer . . . no, I’m not going to choose that one.

Do I define myself by my relationship to other people? I am mother. That one definitely seems the most basic, the truest of blood, bone and heart. But doesn’t it describe half the population of the earth? “I am a Fisherman’s Daughter,” someone said. My Daddy was a fisherman. Does that make me a Fisherman’s Daughter?

Today is my Daddy’s birthday. He has been gone from us now for several years and I miss him. Am I, indeed, a fisherman’s Daughter? A professors daughter? An intellectuals daughter? An authors daughter? A public speakers daughter? A politician’s daughter? A gardener’s daughter? A singer’s daughter? A story teller’s daughter? An athlete’s daughter? An artist’s daughter? An Aggie’s Daughter? A Sigma Chi’s daughter? Yes, I am a fisherman’s daughter. I am all that and more, because he was all that and more.

My Daddy stands in the silver Logan river in his brown chest waders and the river slides around him as if he is an organic part of it’s flow. The sun backs up against the western mountains and the sliding silver water burns brilliant with sudden shimmering gold. The mountain tops swallow the sun and twilight fills the canyon with purple sage stillness for just an instant . . . then the wind comes up, flowing clear and green down the canyon and it kisses a riffle on to the surface of the water and the fish start to jump. Then my Daddy clamps his pipe in his teeth and casts his line out into the river; the filament disappears in the sky, snapped into the glisten of the last burnish of sun. My Daddy is a big man, an athlete, a football player, but when he casts a line, he moves in a single graceful arch that could be a dance . . .wrist, arm, shoulder, back, line . . . line . . . line . . . FISH! Up on it’s tail in the last glitter of the setting sun; a rainbow trout dances backward toward my Daddy’s net splashing a kaleidoscope of river into the evening air; a kaleidoscope of memory that smells of fish; that smells of canyon; that smells of leather, bay rum and pipe smoke; that smells of pine; that smells of sage; that smells of twilight and summer, that smells of home.

Edwina Peterson Cross
October 27, 2004

I painted my Daddy, Dr. Edwin L. Peterson, on top of one of his own oil paintings