Mr. Surber walked by these waters
carrying his eponymous device,
and he found 5,000 fishes (tuna
not among them) to go with his bread:
brookies, rainbows, and browns, fry and adult,
and blacknose dace all fed by nymphs and flies.
Trout unlimited plied this stream, to rise
to mayflies from the first warm May morning
and lurk on winter streambeds just alive.
Mr. Surber walked and saw them all,
again looking below the surface
of mere utility to see resources
unmatchable by crowded hatcheries,
the web of life over and above ores
that had briefly drawn profit from this spot.
Native trout fed on a diet of larvae
and flies, their short lives spent inches
above the plane separating them from
the copious life below.
flowed out of the gorge into the past
for this is not the same stream Surber saw.
Acid poisons bourne aloft from the west
pour down on depleted soils
their buffering capacity long
shot, leached out with each passing shower.
Native alkalinity subsided.
The mountain’s blood has become leukemic;
some infection has sent its tendrils through
its black skin to weaken its life, limestone
marrow found lacking to stem life-crushing
tide. Endangered species cannot be seen
until their lack endangers visible life.
What disease lurks beneath placid surface?
Genus Ephemerella has become
too ephemeral--all the mayflies are gone.
Rainbow's end, and brookies are on the decline.
III. The Collect