First Trout


Copper of the Upper Peninsula
Served as a primary color, the palette
Paints the caverns of iron across my young boy’s mind;
A calico of adolescent travesties chasm the rise
In the burnt brown waters of the Fence.
Memories of this place reek of my childhood so innocent
Not even the conifers could redeem my purity of heart
There aside the clear natural effluence of the river’s bed.
I Learned to tie my first Duff and Nymph while the lure
Of the river remains almost like a limb of my soul
Keeping branches of the summer sun to stream its
Yellow light across freckled face and sky-blue eyes.
That one morning we hiked upstream on a path
Thriving in moss, the rattlesnake fern so abundant we
Walked careful as deer not to slice our waders. We launched at
The Three Sisters, pines tall as the sky, who were waiting for us
To begin our day while the trout laughed at us, bellies aching.
My first brownie struck the lure so hard I nearly leapt clear
Out of the water with excitement as my neighbors laughed.
The beauty of his iridescent coat was matched only by
Way of my Tears of sorrow for gutting and cleaning him
As that afternoon’s lunch. It was as though I needed to thank
Him for his loss while I watched the breading, the heat of
The fryer whispering to me of his plea: “Do not cry for me
Young boy, You are mine now, forever.”

© K. James Ribble

Photo: @d3imagery /
Tahquamenon Falls – Paradise, Michigan

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