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Also by Jeff Knorr:
Steelhead Fishing Under Diving Stars | Arriving at the Shore | At the Sullivan Ranch, Returning Home | In Our Surprise, We Are

Steelhead Fishing Under Diving Stars

This morning in the black we toe-tap dumbly
and wade by touch. The Feather River
moves constant against our legs,
gravity tugging it south then west.
Out of sudden eddies, salmon explode.
The moon and hers hover over the day,
and under all these blinking eyes of the dead
I might remember to fish our morning
as carefully as a deer hiding in her own stillness.

At the horizon, the light is still dim.
Breaking the tick, tickety, tick of split lead
bouncing behind the whirling fly just
off the bottom, the rod jerks hard twice
then bows like a hilltop to the east.

The steelhead breaks downstream
and I am lost with the fish
my feet moving over rocks,
through shallows as if I'm water.
A solid pull, the head swing,
a short run, line whining
off the reel and I'm lifted
from the gravel bottom when
he blows through the water
and into the morning,
silver, catching the moon
in his cupped tail,
spoon-head swinging,
and every scale
throwing light,
glowing backward
toward the water
like a diving star
so bright he might glow
or steam when he lands
splashing, sending the river breaking
like glass, splintering into a mist.

But when he comes down, it's all black
and the line in one last whip pulls and goes limp.
The rod is straight as an alder limb in summer.
I stand in the dark sweating, the roar of water
in my ears, the stars wheeling above
toward the west, darker now, farther on.
The river lights faintly, my hands tremble
with the fluttering leaves on the bank,
my feet planted firmly in the stone bottom.

Printed in the Spring/Summer 2002 issue of CLR

Jeff Knorr Jeff Knorr

Jeff Knorr is the author of two collections of poetry, Standing Up to the Day (Pecan Grove Press, 1999) and Western Reach (Red Hen Press, 2002). He is also the co-author of Mooring Against the Tide: Writing Poetry and Fiction (Prentice Hall) and the co-editor of A Writer's Country (Prentice Hall). He was the founding co-editor and poetry editor of the Clackamas Literary Review.

Jeff Knorr currently lives in California's central valley and teaches literature and writing at Sacramento City College.

You can find Jeff Knorr on the web at:
—  Powell's Books
—  Barnes & Noble
—  Sacramento City College

Published by Clackamas Literary Review, in print and on the web at,, and
Copyright 2001-2002, Clackamas Community College