By Casey Charles

A creek called Fish. Where I go.
In Montana, through burn piles, past rest stops.
Exit at the gorge, park in pines,

hide keys in the wheel well. Where I change,
neon line threaded through eyes in the rod,
here where saplings line the bank. At the end of rapids,

where the stream pools, bruised against stone,
mirror of sky and shadow, refuge of rainbows,
below the tumbled scree. Where I wade, knotted.

Where I fall, midstream, snagged and tangled, trapped by logs.
Take me down, god of bouldered waters, clean my skin,
cast high above the smooth blue sift, these sins.

Swallow me, great cutthroat, pull me under,
hook my gill and tug, tug hard against the bending summons,
dragged by headwaters, taut tippet invisible to hungry eyes.

Now rise in the canyon, blessed amid these sainted rocks,
hot in August, unmoved, whirling in rings around my shins,
headstones smooth from the font’s white current.

Forget these forceps, forget the netted wings above my shoulders,
forget the Royal Coachman. Go under, caught in the release,
join the ones who got away, the ones that snapped your leader.


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