The mission was to track down a thin publication, released in 1967, possibly by the Canadian Wildlife Service. The thing you don't realize before you work in reference is just how useful those old timey mid-century bibliographies are. They're on paper, actual paper, which means you can flip back and forth quickly instead of ticking off agonizing seconds while the screen changes to the digitized page you think you might want. You can unfocus your eyes enough as you flip though the book on the table and let the right word reveal itself to your brain.
I didn't find what I was looking for, in any bibliography of the CWS, Environment Canada, NRCan, on the Publications Canada website, or in the Canadian Publications catalogues. No. Dice.
But in one of those bibliographies, and this was before I was Collecting collecting, which means I was just scribbling little notes to myself on the backs of AMICUS printouts, there was a listing for another thin paper. Just a few pages, I believe, and if you've worked in non-profits or the gov, you know the type - 10, maybe 15 pages, thick staples leaving flecks of rust on the cover cardstock. A block of now-retro colour across the bottom half of the front, maybe avocado, maybe burnt orange, a square with rounded corners cut out to reveal the title on the title page. One corner with a diagonal tear where someone picked it up once with clumsy fingers.
I never did see the book, but the title was "This Trout is a Great Fighter."
A flat statement. A specific trout. I like to imagine one fish, fighting a great fight against a predator’s teeth, claws; the encroaching ice.
It puts me in mind of a poem I can’t remember – one that involves river water glinting like diamond scales. I thought it was “The Fish” by Marianne Moore. Or a poem by Elizabeth Bishop – maybe “The Fish” again, or “At the Fishhouses.” No and no and no. I think I’m focused too much on the fish-image instead of what was back of it. No mind, though. I can still see the river in the fall, running hard, small crests flecked with foam under moonlight.