Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Holy Order of Fish Handlers

There are those who claim
they can catch the sleek
trout in their bare hands.
My first response to this
was disbelief, but when
I try to imagine it—
I who can barely catch
that lovely and elusive
fish with hook and line
and who have seen them
flash upstream when I
merely scratched an itch—
I imagine something
like a sacred meditation,
a dance of stillness
demanding the non-
attachment of a monk.
To teach oneself to
stand in a cold river
without disrupting it,
to cast no shadow:
is it any different from
learning to levitate, or
mastering that bullfrog-
like chanting that resounds
even underneath the temple?
They talk of calming the fish
by gently stroking
its belly, and I admit,
like a hungry trout
gulled by glint and feather,
I may have been seduced
by a beautiful idea,
but I want to believe
in this, the holy order
of fish handlers, who, to
briefly catch their prey, must
first forget themselves.

—Dallas Crow

"The Holy Order of Fish Handlers" originally appeared in the Fall/Winter 2008 (Vol. 103, #3/4) issue of Poet Lore.


Suzanne Pickruhn said...

Really nice, Dallas. I especially love the last line.

Martian Bracelets said...


I don't think I'd ever seen this one. Great poem.

Gabrielle Rose said...

Just beautiful. Thank you.

Clare said...

I can feel myself tripping over the barriers on the way to achieving a meditative state. I like this.