Here before me, snake-head.
My waders weigh seven pounds.
My Barbour jacket, mainly necessary
For its pockets, is proof
Against the sky at my back. My bag
Sags with lures and hunter’s medicine enough
For a year in the Pleistocene.
My hat, of use only
If this May relapses into March,
Embarrasses me, and my net, long as myself,
Optimistic, awkward, infatuated
With every twig-snag and fence-barb
Will slowly ruin the day. I paddle
Precariously on slimed shale,
And infiltrate twenty yards
Of gluey and magnetized spider-gleam
Into the elbowing dense jostle-traffic
Of the river’s tunnel, and pray
With futuristic, archaic under-breath
So that some fish, telepathically overpowered,
Will attach its incomprehension
To the bauble I offer to space in general.
The cormorant eyes me, beak uptilted,
Body-snake low — sea-serpentish.
He’s thinking: “Will that stump
Stay a stump just while I dive?” He dives.
He sheds everything from his tail end
Except fish-action, becomes fish,
Disappears from bird,
Into fish, so dissolving fish naturally
Into himself. Re-emerges, gorged,
Himself as he was, and escapes me.
Leaves me high and dry in my space-armour,
A deep-sea diver in two inches of water.
(Ted Hughes from A River, 1983)