Chet Gresham

Each sliver, lost artifact of sun,
slackens before the catfish rips
your arms into the fight.

If there is a cave he bulls toward it.
There is little you can know about him.

If your hands and instincts fit,
you’ll reel him in. A heron lifts

from the bank, croaks and shits
as he pulls upward. Someone prays

for the fish. If you give him more,
keep giving. Someone prays

for you. A semi shakes the bridge
and under the girders a man

lights a fire. Nothing will come of this.
On the landing, crows pick over carp bones,

pinch and lift pieces too big
that splash back into the river.

The fish strains, mouth clenched with steel.
If there is a God he becomes it.

But if he becomes silt,
settles back to where the blue-green
water is black, where the sun

is swallowed like a thousand barbed hooks:
Thunderheads will stain the horizon,
overturn the sky and raise the river
until the taut line eases.



I've always thought if there is a God then it is probably a flathead catfish burrowed down in the mud of some Kansas river.