national anthology of the best undergraduate writing 2014
Honorable Mention in Poetry

A Trout

Jackson Rollings  • 
Bard College

After an hour of steely sky
the locals call night,
we’re back on the rapids
fishing whorls for sockeyes,
but reel in only dollies.


Here, northern capillaries of the Kenai
triple with every squall of rain.
We tie midge and nymph flies
on grassy banks,
my father and I. I cast wrong


and he tows up a young rainbow;
he wicks out the hook, hands me
the singular muscle of her.
I dash her skull against a boulder
without a prayer


blessing her only in the canopic care
with which I undress her
meat from scale and sweat her out
in a brine bath, crowned in juniper,
then halve the white strata between us.


My father pours a kind of shrub liquor
and whispers grace to himself before eating.
In the nimbus over the table
sounds a lone goose, and a holy darkness
swims deeper in us.