Western Slope Poet Laureate Finds Music In Fly Fishing

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Photo: Flyfishing rods (stock photo)

Photo: Flyfishing rods (stock photo)Colorado’s Western Slope has a new poet laureate -- who also happens to be CPR’s resident poet, David Rothman. To mark the occasion, Rothman shares a poem he wrote about a friend who’s a devoted fly fisherman, and an acclaimed violist. The poem’s called “ The Trout and the Fly.”

Read "The Trout and the Fly"


The Trout and the Fly

The trout considers the fly;

And the pool in which the trout considers the fly brims and ripples;

And the man who has carefully and cunningly cast the fly away from his shadow stands in the cool pool of the Taylor River that brims and ripples as the trout considers it;

And the man considers the trout as it considers the fly;

And as the man waits for what seems like an eternity for the damned trout to make a decision,

He realizes that the moment is actually an arpeggio,

For everything is moving, upward, downward, forward and back, side to side,

The bobbing fly and the trout holding his place in moving water considering the fly,

Water that has washed down from Park Cone, from Matchless Mountain, from Fossil Ridge and Grizzly Peak,

Mountains that have pulled water from clouds lifted orographically as they approached the great divide,

The divide that runs like an enormous spine down the continent,

Reaching its highest point near here, creating and separating the headwaters

Into ten thousand brooks, streams, creeks and rivers flowing to the Colorado and the Arkansas, all simultaneously and perpetually rushing away from that apex

Over rocks, broken rocks, stones, gravel, pebbles, sand and dirt

And sometimes around the legs of fishermen casting for Cutthroat, Rainbow, Brown and Brook

In the pools and eddies of the rivers that are wearing down the mountains

Even as they are lifted up out of the seas to which they are slowly returning;

And the man knows that this has happened before, as there are stone shells near the summits of Fossil Ridge and Treasury Peak,

And that it will no doubt happen again, like a vibration, or the echo of a vibration, one bridging and binding the gulf between all things as the sun and the planets and stars wheel above,

The kind of music a master might create near death, hovering in leukemia as Bartok does in 1945, moving from one sphere to another,

Churning out one masterpiece after another until the viola concerto floats in like a final, fevered dream for Primrose, oh, listen, listen to Tamestit play it,

Or maybe even better, Menuhin, especially the adagio religioso that begins in E at the opening of the second movement,

And rivers will flow through your heart, even when it has broken like the rocks in the rivers,

In which you are also the trout, and the pool, and the mountain, and the stars, and even the fisherman, his cast like the guiding of a bow;

Who cares if only ten people came to Bartok’s funeral? The music, the music,

Music he never heard but knew he had made, is still running into the pool and that is what matters,

Even the water a vibration, and the man knows this as he fishes for the trout,

As any man knows more than he can say,

And he knows that the trout and the pool in which the trout considers the fly

And the water flowing into and out of this pool and every pool,

And the mountains he loves from which the water descends to rivers, pools and oceans

Which hold the remnants of the mountains and out of which new mountains will arise

Will all pass away, as he and everything and everyone he loves will pass away but continue to sing;

And now, even now, the music sings in the pool of the Taylor River,

Under this sun but also upon every moonless midnight studded with gems,

The way all music sings even as it is passing away, both perfect and changing,

For everything sings as it passes and continues to sing;

And the trout considers the fly.

Editor's note: In a previous version of this poem, Rothman mentioned brooks, streams, and creeks flowing to the Missouri River. He ought to have said the Arkansas River.