A Memorable Moment on the Henry’s Fork
By Donna Landreth

Donna and her husband, Harry, spent a lifetime fly fishing the western streams for trout. I hope you are inspired by her joy of fly-fishing.

Marvelous visitation!
Glad reunion!
Now rejoicing,
sending line heavenward
in praise and thanksgiving,
watching it return
to earth’s water blessed.
I see the leader unfold,
the fly drop daintily onto the water,
and like a tiny ballerina
pirouette atop a rock swirl.

the sip
confident, , unhurried.
Golden lips emerging,
barely kissing
the barbed bit of feather
and fur,
feather from a creature of air,
fur from a land creature
a gift of deep earth,
the sharp, metallic heart
and nether parts of hook.

no more the eagle’s anxious cry
the rush of the river,
the sibilance of wind
through willows and aspens...
Only the scream of the reel.
Only its battle cry
as the trout seeks passionately
the dark depths and shelter
of great round rocks.

I send thoughts of strength
to the straining tippet,
envisioning its ragged passage
through rough grass, snags,
the refuse and treasure
of river life.

And when the screaming stops
I reel, leaning back
against the force of fish and water,
and the golden warrior
rising skyward,
furious at the irresistible tug of captivity,
breaches into my gilded hero.
He is shaking his glimmering head,
No! No!
But I say,
And the battle goes on.

The soprano whir of the reel
sings to the river world again and again
as the trout leads line
into the deepest, swiftest river havens.
In reverence
I bow when he thrashes into sunlight.
With determination
I pump him back when he sounds.

Just as I begin to doubt
that he will be my prize,
he turns
swimming toward me
as fast as I can reel.
To discover whose power he is in?
To confront me face to face?

But with infinite forbearance.
And soon
my heart swells
with love, hope, peace
as I lower my net
and watch him enter,
like a cherished friend.

A moment
and the tiny hook is lifted
from the golden mouth.
For a single glorious moment
firm cool roundness
fills my hand and heart,
then serenely
takes leave.

But in that brilliant moment
his miraculous image
is etched forever
in my soul:
Pure gold encrusted with rubies,
an apotheosis of brown trout,
divinity assuring me
“I would die for you again.”