Volume 1 Issue 3
Robert Blair Kaiser: A Letter from the Editor
Mother Of All Bombs
R.W. French: A Day in March
H.R. Stoneback: God's Trout: Fisher King & Delta Force Recon the Upper Tigris
Robert Blair Kaiser:
Rome Diary Index
Australian Broadcasting Company: Radio Discussion on Vatican II
Kelly Burke: Blessed are the Once Married
Bill Burrows: The Erosion of Catholic Culture
José Comblin: Changes in the Latin American Church During the Pontificate of John Paul II
John J. Deeney: Vatican II: Before, During, and After — Some Personal Anecdotal Reflections
Robert Blair Kaiser: Notes Toward An Essay on Vatican II
Virginia Saldanha: Vatican II Brought Wholeness to Life
Ingrid Shafer: The Vision of Vatican II
Jon Sobrino, SJ:
A New Council (English)
Un Nuevo Concilio (Español)
Leonard Swidler: A Catholic Constitution for the Catholic Church
Sr. Maria José Arana, RSCJ: To Ransom the Feminine in order to Re-animate the Earth (English)
Rescatar Lo Femenino Para Re-Animar La Tierra (Español)
God's Trout: Fisher King & Delta Force
Recon the Upper Tigris (Spring 2003)
At the secret source of the most ancient river
where the very Tree of Life shadowed Eden:
there, on the upper Tigris, the mysterious trout —
alabalik — lurks among unfished rapids
and riffles where Kurds contend with Turks.
Mines bloom on the banks of Baghdad-bound waters.
Far downstream, Iraqi troops fire thousands
of rounds into the river. They say a pilot
has descended from the sky, hides in the river:
a fanatic crowd cheers as they shoot the water,
set the riverbank reeds on fire — in deep midstream,
trout hold steady, then ascend toward Eden.
Upstream at midnight Delta Force regroups beneath
the appointed bridge: twelve men (who do not exist,
it is said) gather in susurrous darkness,
greet one another with handsigns and whispers,
exchange the secrets of reconnaissance,
then wait, more certain than the wide water's silence.
Another man joins them sometime towards dawn:
tall, bearded, in local dress — austere, humorous,
he says he has been fishing with grubs and worms.
He says there is a rare trout in these waters —
alabalik — it could be translated "God's Trout."
He once caught one, he says, in the Garden.
Since he works for the CIA, he does not explain
his more cryptic remarks, though he does note
that "God's Trout" defies mere science, should not exist here,
by evolutionary laws. "Go ask Noah,"
he says and then they freeze at the motion
downstream; through nightvision goggles they see the glow
of a boy fishing: they watch him catch big trout
and release them with some gesture of blessing.
At first light, the boy climbs the bank with one large fish
and vanishes to the south. Overhead, a missile
soars towards Kirkuk. Then they hear singing: — alert
under the bridge, they watch dozens of men, women, children
walking barefoot on the rivertrail, barefoot and singing,
walking north. When the Force comes up from the river,
standing and stretching in the warm sun, they do not look
like CIA, Special Ops, Delta Force: they look local,
and hungry. Heading south to the next village they have
ascertained to be secure, they relax, tell jokes,
talk about fishing, how war is good for trout — "take
certain Croatian streams," one says, "unfished for years
due to riverside mines — the trout are yours for the tickling."
The CIA man says he wants to fish for the red-speckled
alabalik, he must get back to the Garden.
The smoke of cooking-fires rises from the village
as they approach, salute those who know them,
sit down by the river where food is brought to them.
The trout, charred over hot ashes, taste like God's Trout,
they say, laughing. The village elder explains
that the people who just passed to the north
are Assyrian Christians on yearly pilgrimage
to the Garden of Eden, to drink the source
of the Tigris. "The others moving along the river
are fleeing the Siege of Baghdad." He makes a sign
with his hand and more perfectly-cooked trout are brought.
Many people from the village are eating
by the morning river where no one is fishing.
The village chief and elders exchange intelligence
with their visitors as they eat. Planes pass far
overhead. "You will need luck in Kirkuk,"
the elder says, putting something in the leader's
pocket. At the fire, the Force sees the boy who came up
from the river with one fish. He is cooking many
trout, many men with the boy, many fish cooking.
The Force moves down the river. Now they say nothing.
Men who own the night do not name who owns the sky.
March 29, 2003
H.R. Stoneback is Professor of English at SUNY-New Paltz. A widely published poet and scholar, his recent books includeSinging the Springs & Other Poems (Portals Press) and Cafe Millennium & Other Poems (Portals). Once upon a time, he was both a basketball player and a Marine.
Statement of Purpose
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