On low descending stairs, the river steps Past pebbles and deadfall, seeking the end. The trees watch -- silent, impassive adepts -- Unmindful of what lies beyond the bend. I've tossed the fly a hundred thousand times This afternoon and have not raised a trout, Though I see them, shadows beneath the pines, Elusive as a vaguely recalled doubt. A pileated woodpecker alights On a dead tree, plants himself, and, ripping At an oblong hole, flings wood left and right -- All those scrambling ants he is sipping. I leave the river before he's flown off, My creel empty, my mind rasped and rough.