Why does everything come back to fish?
The time of year when the Maumee River
is flush with human jetties, casters, waist-deep
in the chill, arms like pistons, their manic Spring quest
for Walleye insatiable. The catch won’t be served
for dinner, though—fear of poisoning their young.
Turn to the musings of Carl Jung
to make sense of synchronicity, his take on fish,
beginning with a human-aquatic figure that served
as an ancient alchemical inscription. On the river
bank he encountered a giant creature in its quest
to reach water, only to disappear in the deep.
That same day, he saw a patient, in deep
despair, recount terrifying dreams she had as a young
girl, and her whole adult life had become a quest
to make sense of those giant nightmare fish
that continued to haunt her. Later, at a cafe on the river,
he savoured freshly caught rainbow trout served
by a waiter named Fischel. In dreams, the archetype serves
as stand-in for libido or greed; or if it’s deep
in the sea—unconscious urges; if it leaps out of a river,
then fright or redemption. When I was young,
hard as I tried, I was never able to hook a fish.
Though I did set out on various quests,
or set forth (into the dark wood) to use the language of quest,
to find the exact cause I was meant to serve.
I knew of the Grail and the aged, wounded Fisher
King from Weston’s Ritual to Romance, I was deep
in The Psychology of Transference by Jung.
I kept my implacable sense that this river
(and all rivers like it) was the River
separating the living from the dead, the quest-
ioner from the question, and that while I was young,
I had to dive in, for everything’s a matter of serving
or being served. And how to approach the deep
recessed pools of the incorporeal, commanding fish.