The best rocks, the rocks he chooses
to reach between, are near the banks,
head-sized and pitted.

If there are no snakes,
he will rub his fingers through the mud, gently
testing the root systems, the weak, weak currents.

How can I understand the feeling that first moment
the finger skims the trout’s side
and neither draws back?
                                     I don’t imagine
warmth from the body—no, the thing is cold
as this river close to its source.
A heartbeat, I don’t know

how that works.
He says the process is slow—

grasp her lightly between two fingers so she confuses
your fingers with water—
and even I can see the talent, even

from on top of a small hill
where my feet stay dry and I have a proper lookout
for the game warden’s truck.

Abby Gambrel’s poems have appeared in Crab Creek Review and Georgetown Review. She lives in Southern California.