Aesthetics Precede Ethics





The doors of the brook trout’s pink gills open

and close as it wriggles in my palm, back 

yellow and black, variegated like coral. Light appears 

at the fish’s exposed sides, and the sound of water 

collects in backwash where the stream careens

over boulders, milk-white like the edging along the fish’s

pelvic and anal fins. In hand, the caudal fin 

flays orange and ebony, a nimbus of flame

haloing the body. The fish’s eyes continue to hold 

the caddis hatch, while the thread the stream holes 

itself through makes a thin space between ridges.

I spread the net of my fingers in the water, 

and the trout disappears beneath a ledge, as the stream

will, if I follow it high up into the mountain.