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In the Deep Channel

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Setting a trotline after sundown
if we went far enough away in the night   
sometimes up out of deep water
would come a secret-headed channel cat,

Eyes that were still eyes in the rush of darkness,   
flowing feelers noncommittal and black,
and hidden in the fins those rasping bone daggers,   
with one spiking upward on its back.

We would come at daylight and find the line sag,   
the fishbelly gleam and the rush on the tether:   
to feel the swerve and the deep current
which tugged at the tree roots below the river.

William Stafford, “In the Deep Channel” from The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 1960 by William Stafford. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, St. Paul, Minnesota, www.graywolfpress.org.
Source: The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems (Graywolf Press, 1998)
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In the Deep Channel

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