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.