The Fisher’s Tale

Since the long, long and distant past 
here flowed the fisher’s river. 
Fisher stalks the river dawn to dusk, 
sonorous chant embues each stride :

‘Wildest river, flows by my side
at my birth she became my bride. 
At dawn she moves me,
at noon she soothes me,
at dusk she woos me.
She I follow, entrust my breath.’

And so it was till the fiercest storm came.
River in dire need she can’t stem the flow
wrestles her wandering temperament
breaks free, gouges a restless way.

On a dry bed of boulders
fisher wades across pools of silt.
Arid bend to bend, 
parched bank to bank.
Desolate stones full of intention,
piles upon piles of redundant faces
no longer carry surging waves.

Silent the rumbling tones of shifting stones,
mute the chorus of watery sounds,
gone all melodies that nurture the soul.
Boulder shoulders boulder,
a forsaken spine carries no flesh
odours linger - fisher has no waters.
Haunted chant flows from fisher’s lungs:

‘Wild river, timbre of my breath 
my feet stand on dry bones.
Strong river who tempered my souI, 
all waters fled - stumbles my strength.
Warbling river who stilled my heart
my pulse worn out, I am bereft.’

Fisher edges over a lip of stone
drops both feet on the river’s bones
moves with care, rests on barren pool
listens deeply under tree-fern’s shade.
His hand brushes off lichen scales, 
a finger draws on powdered silt.

Still as stone, exhausted by sorrow,
memories flood this treasured space: 
Trout hiding in tree-fern’s shadow 
waiting for mayfly’s mortal dance,
when wings caress the coolest pool
fisher too enters the final dance. 

Dry breeze stirs, silt swirls, sand tumbles.
Ancient hymn stirs on fisher’s breath:

‘Sorchar nan Ruel, 
Creator of earth, river, sky
rescue me in Your kindness.
Do not be mute to me, 
my breath laid waste, my face fallen, 
lead me to the River of Life.’

Fisher feels the flow of twirling sands. 
A tickle drums in fisher’s ear
undulations of watery tones.
Fisher casts eyes towards unseen waters,
attunes ears to soothing sounds, 
sluicing waters, droplets falling -
Heaven's river unimagined.

A cursory glance will not do.
The trout is in fisher’s movement
from the dry pool the fisher rises.

© Craig A Roberts, 2024
Sorchar nan Ruel: “Lightener of the Stars”, the Scots-Gaelic poetic name of Jesus Christ.

Photo: Author
Spread the love