Old Pike

Old Pike

Old pike pursues his fishy ways,
butts his head through the river bank tangle
of tree root and reed,
knows where every shadow stays.
If he had a tune,
it would be played deep and slow
with a bow on a cello,
could only sound cold,
to threaten, like a thunder cloud,
moving low.
Though he may not scout about
as much as salmon or trout,
that he is lord of fresh water,
he has no doubt.
Pitiless water wolf, slimer,
slough snake, hammer handle,
Sharptooth McCraw,
some names of old pike,
what a picture they draw.
Dark olive green scales,
belly white to yellow,
such is his coat,
a most remarkable fellow.
If he cannot feed on perch or roach,
he will settle for stickleback or minnow.
As for me, looking down on the river,
after the first few seconds of death,
I suppose I will get used to it.
Not being here will not alarm me too much.
I will find curious the change.
Whatever happens, it is sure to be strange.
Old pike lives somewhere down there,
never hollow with hunger.
Was not him but the kingfisher,
I thought about more when I was younger.
Old pike, say what you like,
he is a formidable fish.
If I swam in a lake or river,
in a coat of scale, gills and fin,
while I sleep, he would creep by my pillow,
disturb the hold of the roots
of oak and willow,
to meet him would not be my wish.


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