On Trout

Cover photo by Jim Cholewa:  Jack Cholewa fishing south of Yellowstone.


I know nothing. I am a survivor: dedicating every moment of being to the harvest of nutrition, all the while preventing the shadows, ripples and splashes from harvesting me. I watch a crystalline sheen of debris move swiftly and constantly over my head. Every moment is a conditioned judgement, every outline presents an opportunity to stay alive. I stare up, and forward into the sheen as it rips over my head, watching dark debris against the bright sky.
Whoosh. Too long.
Whoosh. Too slow.
Whoosh. Wrong color.
Boom! I come up from my slow, easy motion, up into the light. I come up into the swift sheen, mouth agape: I expertly allow myself to be pulled back, matching the speed of the dark outline. I break the sheen. I turn slightly to grasp it. I quickly move back to the shadow and bask in the slow water, in the shadow.
I stare up, and forward into the sheen. I wait.
Something’s not right.

A photo I took in Elba, MN when I was a kid

A splash, a bubble. The sheen is sharply broken. Boom! I’m gone, fast. I thrash through the thick sticks, I feel my fat belly scrape the mud until I find the familiar: total darkness. I wait. Finally, all is normal. I slowly return to the sheen.
Whoosh. Too small.
Whoosh. Too big.
Whoosh. Too fast.
Boom! Into the light. Into the swift sheen, mouth agape. I turn slightly to grasp it. I move quickly back, but something is wrong. Tremendous vibration. Pain. I’m jerked into the light. I feel the familiar sound down my flesh. Across the sheen, I’m pulled towards it. I fight against the splashing, the vibration, the disruption. I move for the darkness.
It’s happening again.
At last, the sticks, the mud: churning under my belly. I turn, I twist, I ache for the darkness. All at once, the marvelous twang, the unencumbered movement, the final vibration, the darkness. For a long time I wait for the familiar. I feel the murmuring, the vibrations across the sheen. I see the shadows from my place of darkness: large, looming, murmuring vibrations across my flesh. Finally, long after, the sky is clear. Only the unfamiliar feeling in my mouth remains.
But I will wait.
I know nothing, but I am a survivor.

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