Roethke’s Fur-Bearing Trout

Nancy Pagh

I thought the west wind called me from my bed.
I woke to sleep, and took my waking slow
the night the river ran so hard. I followed,
felt my fate in what I cannot fear.

 

I woke to sleep, and took my waking slow
across the moonlit lawns, across the road.
I felt my fate in what I cannot fear.
I climbed the fallen cedars, moved beyond.

 

Across the moonlit lawns, across the road,
I learned by going where I had to go.
I climbed the fallen cedars, moved beyond
what falls away, is always, and is near.
 
I learned by going where I had to go.
I followed to the river bed and plunged:
what fell away, is always, and is near
swirled behind my knees and tried to run.

 

I followed through the river bed and plunged:
I heard my being dance from ear to ear.
Trout swirled behind my knees and tried to run:
of those so close beside me, which were you?

 

I heard my being dance from ear to ear.
I clenched the underwater moss, was lost.
Of those so close beside me, which were you?
Until the wind stopped, I knew why I came.

 

I clenched the underwater moss, was lost
to you and me; I swayed outside myself.
When hard wind stops, we forget why it came.
Wind takes the tree; but who can tell us how?

 

To you and me, I swayed outside myself.
To other ways of knowing, I swayed in.
Wind takes the tree; but I can tell you how
the fallen cedar keeps the forest steady.

 

To other ways of knowing, I sway in
and out: I wake to sleep. I feel to think.
I shake the tender parts that would lie steady.
I listen when the wind calls me from bed.

Roethke, Theodore, “The Waking” and “The Rose” (The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke, Anchor) and Pagh, Nancy, “Spring Salmon at Night” (No Sweeter Fat, Autumn House Press).
This poem appears in Nancy Pagh’s collection Once Removed (MoonPath Press).


Nancy Pagh is the author of three poetry collections (No Sweeter Fat, After, and Once Removed) and one book of nonfiction. Her most recent publications appear in RHINO, Canadian Literature, Pif, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. She has recently published a textbook on creative writing with Broadview Press. She teaches at Western Washington University. More at www.nancypagh.com

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