Issue 31, Winter-Spring 1964
In the concrete cells of the hatchery
He nourished a dream of living
Under the ice, the long preparations
For the strange heat of feeling slowly
Roofs melt to a rhythmic green,
But now in the first cold of freedom,
Riding motionless under the road
Of ice, shaping the heart
Of the buried stream with his tail,
He knows that his powers come
From the fire and stillness of freezing.
With the small tremors of his form
The banks shift imperceptibly,
Shift back, tremble, settle,
Shift, all within utter stillness.
I keep in my quiver now
An arrow whose head is half-missing.
It is useless, but I will not change
The pulled, broken tooth of its head
For I have walked upon banks
Shaken with the watchfulness of trout
Like walking barefoot in sleep
On the swaying tips of a grainfield,
On the long, just-bending stems,
Almost weightless, able to leap
Great distances, yet not leaping
Because each step on that ground
Gave a new sense of limitless hope.
Under the ice the trout rode,
Trembling, in the mastered heart
Of the creek, with what he could do.
I set myself up as a statue
With a bow, my red woolen back
Climbed slowly by thoughtful brambles
And beggar-lice, to shoot
At an angle down through the shadow
Of ice, and spear the trout
With a shot like Ulysses’
Through the ax-heads, with the great weapon.
I shot, and the trout did not move
But was gone, and the banks
Went rigid under my feet
As the arrow floated away
Under the paving of ice.