Pike, three inches long, perfect
Pike in all parts, green tigering the gold.
Killers from the egg: the malevolent aged grin.
They dance on the surface among the flies.
Or move, stunned by their own grandeur
Over a bed of emerald, silhouette
Of submarine delicacy and horror.
A hundred feet long in their world.
In ponds, under the heat-struck lil-pads-
Gloom of their stillness:
Logged on last year’s black leaves, watching upwards.
Or hung in an amber cavern of weeds
The jaws’ hooked clamp and fangs
Not to be changed at this date;
A life subdued to its instrument;
The gills kneading quietly, and the pectorals.
Three we kept behind the glass,
Jungled in weed: three inches, four,
And four and a half: fed fry to them-
Suddenly there were two: Finally one.
With a sag belly and the grin it was born with.
And indeed they spar nobody.
Two, six pounds each, over two feet long,
High and dry and dead in the willow-herb-
One jammed past its gills down the other’s gullet:
The outside eye stared: as a vice locks-
The same iron in this eye
Though its film shrank in death.
A pond I fished, fifty years across,
Whose lilies and muscular tench
Had outlasted every visible stone
Of the monastery that planted them-
Stilled legendary depth:
It was deep as England. It held
Pike too immense to stir, so immense and old
That past nightfall I dared not cast
But silently cast and fished
With hair frozen on my head
For what might move, for what eye might move.
The still splashes on the dark pond.
Owls hushing the floating woods
Frail on my ear against the dream
Darkness beneath night’s darkness had freed,
That rose slowly towards me, watching.