Night hiking, away from the land meander
a bushwhack veer, an ankle break
step down from cut banks
to where he murks between boulders
strewn from glacial afterthought.
I have deep noodled for the fat-bellied
brail of him among the shadowed mud culverts;
ancient mouth rare as dragon fossil.
His is the current’s slow, shaping hunger
that gnaws at roothooks, looses the Japanese
nests from his kappa kin;
in the imagination. Mud devil, snot otter,
he barbs the space where myth camouflages science—
extant pebble of the prehuman.
Soon, he will burrow
deeper sediments. His underwater fire breath
a last lone draw through stream coils.
Totem to the before, in queue for the soon-gone.
He exhales and dark water ripples stones yet formed.