Saturday, March 3, 2012

"For the Trout," by Greg Keeler


You were here first.
I can see why in
the way the rivers don't
rob you of what the streams gave.

The dim rosettes on your
sides live behind your spots
in another time
as if Lewis and Clark were
still planning to meet near
water and would never stop.

And the thin orange slashes
on your throat will always
be proof. No matter how
the world may crowd toward
the hybrid of loss
they will be there.

Your gill covers burn crimson
toward purple as you flaunt
the purity of the West
spilling east from the divide
and a world
lost in you.

You live hard,
in the backwater and eddies
where your flesh turns
like coal into diamond
and you burn orange
up the flare of your fins
for your own reason

The tracks stunning your
back into dark marble
are where we would go in
sleep if dream were water.
Since it's not we rely on
you to show us the way east.

When you find size
in still waters, four pounds
draped over a purist's hand,
it leaves no choice:
Plato was wrong.
All of the West was wrong.
This living shadow burns,
has weight.

You have come a
long way -- and stayed.
Still you seem willing to put
up with us

When we take your water away,
slow it down,
turn it warm,
your jaw gets more determined
with each fall spawning --
and you grow.

We call you brown and your
red spots defy us, floating
on brown glowing gold
turning purple or turquoise
when you flop on the grass.

Your teeth turn inward
sharp down your throat
so nothing you catch
can escape you.


Running against the
line you are the
promise. Where the
brown dives, you leap.
And there in the sun,
above the circle of
your entrance into
this world,
you let us know for
one instant what
you know. And there
is nothing in
the color of sun through
water that could spell
promise so clearly.

On shore your colors
go quickest of all.
Unless we lose you now
we will lose you always.


  1. Thanks for posting these.
    I think you might know which one I like best.

    1. Yes. I think he did a good job with your trout.

  2. Awesome presentation. The photo is cool in that it's just a segment, but so rich and vivid. Something that A.D. Maddox seems to capture. Thanks for introducing me to Keeler. You can't help but appreciate the observation and respect of the species.

    1. Thanks. I like that photo; colors I haven't gotten out of any other fish. And I've liked this poem for awhile. Glad it occurred to me to post it.