Sunday, August 7, 2016

A Private Ceremony

by Tom Sheehan          

It was underfoot all the time,
under the sprawling pines, clutch
of alders in their secret weeping,
under bank and half scrutinies,
under an oft-remembered scum
of yellow residuals and blatant ash,
under booming barrage of business
and turmoil gone amuck inland,
this river coming back from the dead.

One strike of trout, silver in slashing,
its quick upstream knifing as if bowed
outward from a grand archer, a slight
speckling of oddly hurried hues
gathered loosely on bright scaling,
announced the comeback ceremony.

Twelve years since the other trout,
thick in the middle, hungry, hurried,
slammed into my hook in river’s gut;
twelve years’ surface garbage, underwater
death in the quick and quiet reign,
the dread reach for root and soft gill
too tender and slow to be refused;
twelve years of idle Saturdays,
dawns spent over lusterless bait
and the image of a river buried
in another time. By the golf course,
where the banks curved under grass
overhangs lush as ever, on April
Nineteenth for thirteen years,
I caught my limit less and hour of sun.

The drought came, the dozen years
between the two trout, the gangrenous
river sore all the way to its falls,
winter-tied flies bouncing hitless
and superficially off crested surface,
targetless, taking the low fly-by
for nothing, soft whiplash of flight
whirring into fast silence of dawn.
A river’s dying aches into Earth’s heart,
begins upstream, inland, begins with us
who envy its freedom, its plunge to seas,
its long passage feeding the mother of all,
we, upright and erect, we inheritors
of all we deposit on Earth, at sea.

And so this rite began, underfoot,
below my waders’ light green refraction
in the clearer waters, began the notion
of the comeback, the ritual dues paid
out over the lost years, the way clear
upstream for one lone trout at history,
the spawning germ buried behind his eyes,
a drum beating upon the silver scales,
the whole vast Atlantic pushing him home,
the clockwise spin of Earth driving inland
this new adventurer, this white water
daredevil banging at my boot, moving on.

I celebrated, hurling back into the dream
the capture of my hook, silver champion
of the return, ghost of the missing years
rushing under the soldered and pewtered
wrestling of waters becoming Atlantican,
this voyager on the prowl, this river mouth,
this wide-angled thrasher at work,
this ceremonial fact of coming clean
upriver, a new glistening gone at large
where my boots stumbled where they trod.

I vow now to free all my taking, to loose
any celebrator on this bright passage,
and if I should halt the harbinger
with the crook of my hook, its corruptible
barb buried in his mouth as deeply
as memory allows the undertaking,
I will loose my hand on the hallowed rod,
I will feed the river with itself.

No comments:

Post a Comment