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Beside Water: The One That Got Away
by Judy Ray

Begin then with a huge fish rising
from the dawn lake, dancing on its tail
as you sip your first coffee.

Start again with rod prepared, slipping
on rocks where fur seals sprawl. Cast
the line far. Is it the fabled fish

that tugs its way to freedom?
Or has a shipwreck seized hook,
line, and half a rod? Over a fjord

a rainbow leaps like a dolphin's arc,
low against mountain, a perfect bridge.
When colors retreat, you cannot believe

the fjord is not ablaze, the trees
not charred, the rain not transmuted
to silver in an orgasm of light.

You have forgotten your camera
but the rainbow burns into your mind.
A ribbon snake slips across

a mudflat into camouflage.
It is not always the fin-flipping fish
that escapes. It might even be you,

swimming naked and free.

Cervena Barva Press

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