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Underwater Autumn

 Now the summer perch flips twice and glides
a lateral fathom at the first cold rain,
the surface near to silver from a frosty hill.
Along the weed and grain of log he slides his tail.
Nervously the trout (his stream-toned heart locked in the lake, his poise and nerve disgraced) above the stirring catfish, curves in bluegill dreams and curves beyond the sudden thrust of bass.
Surface calm and calm act mask the detonating fear, the moving crayfish claw, the stare of sunfish hovering above the cloud-stained sand, a sucker nudging cans, the grinning maskinonge.
How do carp resolve the eel and terror here? They face so many times this brown-ribbed fall of leaves predicting weather foreign as a shark or prawn and floating still above them in the paling sun.

by Richard Hugo
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