—Bow River, AlbertaThe rowdy gulls—derisive creatures,their yammer an instantaneous flash point of angerfor you. Escaped, your mammoth trout, for whichyou'd traveled here, the fishyou'd drawn so close that each haloed spotshowed clear, though the river was murky, its surface pockedby storm. The feral you of your youth returned,as if he'd never been gone—which he hadn't. Incredibly, it appearedto you, a man in his sixties, that what enduredof life would come to nothing. Your brother rockedin the bow of the boat. He'd caughta trophy minutes before, and released it.He teased you and, incredibly, in that instanthe seemed an enemy. What madness was that?Then reason came back:you weighed such insignificant lossagainst the loss of loved ones to age or disease.You considered a fish you would have freed againstthe elegant downstream bendin the river, at which a pair of eaglesteetered on spruce limbs, tails and heads essentialillustrations of whiteness. And in that momentyou missed your wife, your grownupchildren, a grandchild who shares the gamesshe invents for you, the smaller and younger twinswaiting their turns, you could hope, to do the same.Ineffable changes camealong with an effortless, dawdling gesture of snow,through which the sun now maundered down to the flow.Your trout was already cached in memory's vaults.The squalling gulls showed angel-pale.You turned and smiled at your brother. He smiled.And all was well. And all was well.
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