Baptism and benediction on the Brule

The trout ran strong and swift, the stream ran cold
and clear, and both ran past a pair of felt-
soled boots. The angler in the boots stood long
alone and watched the water rushing by.
The hair beneath his hat was graying, but
the hands that held his pole were still as thick and
hard as when they guided softer hands
and smaller boots down muddy banks to take
that first enchanting step on mossy rocks.
He turned and looked at tiny, gleaming drops
of sunlight dancing upstream where the boy
had caught a rainbow on a fly he’d tied
himself. Around the bend, a little way
beyond where he could see, was where the boy
had caught his first and found his private joy.
He watched the water, waiting, aching to see
the colored pebbles that were not what they
seem rise through swaying shafts of light and hold
near ripples, glitter-capped and quick, until
they tap the surface, take a bite and flash
away. He watched the Mayflies lift and fall
on gossamer wings that fluttered helplessly
against the breeze until they failed. The frail
and floating insects, their genetic task
complete, returned the river’s gift. He looked
across to where the boy and he had sat
to wait for countless suns to sink and call
the trout to rise. There, in the cool of grass
still soft, still moist, still shaded by the trees,
the words were easy. Fears had fallen there
and drowned beneath the current. Dreams were born
and carried high on summer winds. So sweet
was one, it swept away the dreamer–yet
no sweeter than the one that brought, and kept,
the other here. The angler bowed his head
toward the stream and, smiling, waded in.