Gaylord Brewer is a professor at Middle Tennessee State University, where he founded and edits Poems & Plays. His most recent books of poetry are Barbaric Mercies (Red Hen, 2003) and Exit Pursued by a Bear (Cherry Grove, 2004).
Apologia to the Trout at Meadow Farm
I am thankful today for thumb and finger
chafed raw from lifting you, each blood-
dripped iridescent figure, between saws
of teeth and under cheek, laying each
in a lidded bucket atop twisted, wide-eyed
brethren. Small discomfort sufficient
to remind of dark pellets of rain ceased,
sky parted to sun. I demonstrated
once the proper wrist in an open-reel cast,
hooked a hungry soul on deception
of retreating fly, reeled. Lesson complete,
involvement accepted, I devoted energies
to net, to freeing tangled barbs
from torn mouths and tongues, tried to hold
bodies still as the women laughed.
Later, we ate your fresh and tender flesh,
grilled, coarsely salted, the cold wine
succulent river of our gathering. 27 deaths
had been scrubbed from hands, mostly;
my gray trousers, darkly spotted, dried.