Plain China

A Trout

by Jackson Rollings · Bard College · Honorable Mention in Poetry
Cedar Key, WIlliam Gilpin · Princeton University

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.

About the Author

Jackson Rollings · Bard College

Jackson Rollings studies biology and runs an environmental education program in the Hudson Valley. He's from Savannah, Georgia. His poem first appeared in Bard Papers.

About the Artist

WIlliam Gilpin · Princeton University

William Gilpin studies physics, and he is interested in how artistic intuition can enrich scientific thinking. While his academic interests range from theoretical ecology to four-point perspective drawing, in all areas he strives to balance technical concern with creativity. His photograph first appeared in the Nassau Literary Review.