Microburst on the Madison River
Somewhere the summer fires still burn
and so the mountains I promised you sleep
behind a gauze of smoke.
You learned long ago to write down
my promises about this place, and how things
I learned here as a boy are lost
beyond the timberline. And you’ve learned fast
how to mend a fly-line and make good use of wind.
We earn a rainbow each
before the downburst makes its claim.
The guide paddles into the calm
behind a bench the river cut
ages ago. We pull the willows
in tight and let the brief rain heal
the valley of smoke.
Fan Mountain rises. Then the Sphinx,
its brother the Helmet, and the range in full.
But beneath the river’s skin we trace
a silent trout holding its sway
against the current, back and forth
over the riverbed, with a shining thread
of wake unraveling behind its tail.
This easy stroke will be the stone
we take back home with us,
so place it on the windowsill
above the sink with our other travel grails.
Someday we’ll need it for ourselves.
Header photo by Espen Brask Nordfonn, courtesy Shutterstock. Photo of John Saad by Paul Crawford.