Stripping it.
Lifting and mending it,
watching it swirl, bend
in the flow, watching the fly
for that possible lunge, pulse
and tug through the ferrules.

Spent caddis husks on the tules.
High above, a bald eagle.
Crusty snow in the shadows
of high, basalt cliffs,
grey-black vertical columns.

Then casting again, this time
into a promising hole
behind a wet boulder. Life’s great
unexplained mysteries: how
sometimes the biggest trout takes
the smallest fly with the slightest nudge
and what happens after we die.

Oops, best watch my step
on this slick rocky bottom, waist deep
in these shoulder-high waders.

Surveying the sky — no sign
of mister eagle — and the willows
along the bankside. A little
black-capped chickadee.
Aak, almost hung up my fly.
                Come on, now,
dammit. I know you’re out there,
why don’t you strike! Or give me at least
a slight rise.

 

Hear it:

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