Photo by Janie Osborne

Back 40: A Fish to Feed All Hunger

On the porch like night peelings,
bags of red hackles.
The fisherman is dressing,
capes of moose mane around him.
In his vise, he wraps the waist
of a minnow with chenille.

We wade downstream. I am barefoot.
The fisherman stands, thigh deep,
seining insects. Perhaps today
in this blizzard of cottonwood
it is the caddis that rises,
after a year in mud, from larva
to phoenix in four seconds.

The fisherman ties an imitator
of hare’s mask and mallard breast.
He washes his hands in anisette,
then casts back, a false cast,
watching the insects legs
break the water.
I line the creel with hay and mint
and lay in six pale trout. There is a pink
line that runs the length of a rainbow’s
belly more delicate than an inner ear.
It makes the whole basket quiver.

The fisherman does not ask why I come.
I have neither rod nor permit.
But I see him watch me afternoons as I bend
to brush down my rooster-colored hair.
He understands a fish to feed all hunger.
And the lure is the same.

From A Fish to Feed All Hunger

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