The Kenai

by Jared White

I understand even as a child that rivers never sleep.
My father takes my brother
and me to the Kenai at a quarter to midnight,
each of us carrying our own flies and rod.Near the bridge we leave the road
and side-step down the hill. A pale column, no—
a pale current of moon
rounds clouds, trees, and people to the meltwater,

raucous, drumming through the pines. Hundreds in waders
walk slowly against the water. Men stand along the river,
each five feet from the next, waiting.
Father tests and re-ties his knots. The surface

breaks, salmon clearing the water
as if they’re trying to swim
upstream against the current of moon,
their sequined skin gleaming silver

before they side-flop in again. Just as my father
hands over my rod and tells me to walk
into the river, a loud man sings a countdown from ten
into his cupped hands. After “three, two, one,” the man yells “Go!”

sending hundreds of handmade flies whipping
past ears and over shoulders, the clear floss humming,
drowning the river’s sound. I clutch
against moon, against currents of

kings and stop casting. The water presses my waders
cold against my thighs, the polar-pine
air catches inside my ribs. I stand there,
watching fish leap toward the moon.

~~~~~~

Author Bio
Jared White was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and, though he has resided in various regions around the country, his poems are often informed by the natural world there. More >

6 thoughts on “The Kenai

  1. Eilidh Thomas says:

    Evocative images of salmon fishing that I can relate to. This one I particularly like – “sequined skin” (I live by the River Spey in northeast Scotland – also a salmon river 🙂

    Like

  2. Eilidh Thomas says:

    Evocative images of salmon fishing that I can relate to. This one I particularly like – “sequined skin” (I live by the River Spey in northeast Scotland – also a salmon river 🙂

    Like

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