Master of the Nets

I have been known to mix my tracks with fishermen,
to watch them cast below the dam,
under brass-lacquered maples,
out into the crushing white water—
have watched as salmon heaved themselves
against the violent froth
and slopped down into still, green pools,
and watched the men as they guided plaid sons
in the art of the cautious back-cast
and parry of an autumn’s manhood,
each boy’s gaze locked on a run of steelhead
that is locked in the shadow of a man.

But the fish, in a trance,
will not feed, no matter the lure;
they come only into chapped October hands
when snagged through spine or tail,
and then must always be released,
listing down into the dark.

What is needed, my friends, is a net.
None of this crisscrossing thatch of single lines
like so many grasses arcing in a rain, but a net
as vast as fields of stars
and tied with a jewel at every knot,
so that we can see ourselves
reflected ten thousand times each time
we cast the net.

But then
one must be a master of the nets.
And that is not so easy.
Not so easy that kind of work,
going out alone at night,
tamping along the stinking, muddy, moonlit banks,
out among the sighing mosquitoes
and the slumbering loaves of fish.
Not so easy
to wade out into the deep dark water,
casting the broad arc of desire to its furthest reach,
hoping to square the flowing night.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2017 John B Wolff

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