He coils in the shadows, waiting to strike,
All hunger and muscle and wariness,
Effortlessly hanging in the cold flow.
Protecting his spot from rivals,
Roofed by the tangled roots of a sycamore
On the inside curve of a stream.
He hangs in the eddies where little effort
Is required, moving tail and fins
Slowly, constantly, in time to the swirls, unblinking eyes watching,
Hunger poised, patient and eternal.
The tree, like him, lives a life preordained,
It is a solitary, haggard remnant of dense forests gone to pasture
Since before work horses ended hot days with long
Draughts of the dark, ancient, cool, waters moving
Under their lips to the ocean.
His back, mottled like the liquid play
Of sunlight through ripples on a rocky bottom
Keeps him invisible until he moves.
His hiding place is deep, carved out over decades
By cold waters that fell in the pines, sank into hard soil,
Seeped patiently through limestone
Fissures in the far mountains,
Fed by rains a century ago, dripping, trickling, moving
Ever downward, finding the light at last
Through fissures in the Earth,
A thousand mouths
Frozen spouts, rimmed in mosses that wave goodbye,
Each one part of a babbling chorus that
Swells and flows and carries the
Soul of the Earth to the sea.
And the dark old fish waits, smelling the current for food above,
Wary because he has felt the
Surprising stab of hook before,
And spit it out,
Or has felt the silent brush of death
From the shadow of an eagle cruising above,
Looking for a reckless fish to take back to her chicks.
The dark fish smells something coming,
Turns into the faint scent, tasting the water, smelling, testing,
Wary but eager. Rising.
Dark fish rising, to strike, to feed, to hide
Until the next time.