“Shards of River” by Gary Metras

Only a black bodied fly could tempt trout
in this pause between downpours.
Only the deepest hungers will force a rise
through the dark brume and the gray drizzle.
I float a caddis a foot from the dripping bank,
its elk hairs disappearing in the gloomy air
and water. Blind fishing, and no
guiding angel this shrouded morning.
Reflex and desire my genuflect and prayer.
The trout are ghost spirits haunting
each bend, each water-scarred tree,
each clump of drowned rocks,
and darkened men wading.
A heavy stare their only companion.
A quiet ripple forms beyond my line,
a small fish that pulls, runs,
and dives against my drab, damp self.
I line-haul it toward me. Its splashes break
and scatter gray shards of river.
A ten inch brookie in full spawning dress,
speckles so bright and fins glowing so orange,
he’s a holy arc of light burning a hand
that knows it must let go.

Gary Metras is the author of sixteen books and chapbooks, most recently, Two Bloods: Fly Fishing Poems (Split Oak Press, 2010), Francis d’Assisi 2008 (Finishing Line Press, 2008), and the forthcoming Captive in the Here (Cevena Barva Press). His poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in such journals as The American Voice, Another Chicago Magazine, The Bellingham Review, The Boston Review of Books, English Journal, Hawai’i Pacific Review, New England Watershed, Poetry, Poetry East, Poetry Salzburg Review, Sanctuary and former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry. He is a past recipient of the Massachusetts Fellowship in Poetry. He is the editor, publisher, and letterpress printer of Adastra Press. He is the President of the Pioneer Valley Chapter #276 of Trout Unlimited. He fly fishes the streams and rivers of western Massachusetts as often as possible