by Susan Charkes

(Millstone River watershed)

we march upstream,

a phalanx, rubberclad

lined bank to bank.

current leaps forward

from the sweeping prod,

tugging at its lead

noses into tree root eddies,

scuffles clods of bottom silt,

chases outflows as they flee.

behind us in the current’s wake

fish clouds billow, royal trains.

whitecaps, a bellied gleam:

limpid waves now stilled,

eyes open, red gills gaping,

this air, this air

the shapes so clear

surfaced

they can be netted

netted

they can be named –

tessellated darter

creek chub-sucker

redbreast sunfish

green sunfish

spottail shiner

comely shiner

swallowtail shiner

satinfin shiner

pumpkinseed

yellow bullhead

banded killifish

blacknose dace

pirate perch

bluegill

pickerel

American eel.

named

they can be counted

counted

they can be returned

returned

the current

takes them back

Susan Charkes, a freelance writer focusing on outdoors, nature and the environment, is on the communications team for D&R Greenway Land Trust.

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