Down at the bottom of a windy road, at the confluence of the North Fork of the Gunnison and Gunnison. Otherwise known as the beginning of the end. Or the end of the beginning. Whichever way you look at it, a good place to fish most days without your guides icing up.
I came back for another season,
to walk caliche paths
among the dead grass and poison oak,
to count winter’s foot prints
and watch the fool indicator
dredge slow moving fish
from the depths of memory.
Leroy sits and smokes, thick glasses
and empty pint glass warping the light
in his eyes. He holds the scowl
of ten thousand jet boat launches.
I wait for the canyon’s mouth to open,
skeletal forms of trees line red strips
of rock, one gigantic yawn of cactus
buried beneath drifts of snow.
Once owned, raw freedom becomes
nothing. I find myself at his bar,
where he waits as if we’ve never met,
pours himself another pint before putting
his hand down, asking “What’ll ya have.”
When I leave, geese at the confluence
push away like black and white breaths.
That there should be a spring, and that
these cold waters must make room
for warmth seems impossible.
Still, I turn the corner above the power lines
and watch late morning’s first light
merge with a midge hatch
like a series of small bubbles rising
through the soft light of liquid amber.