Raymond Carver in Yakima

Northwest Public Radio aired a piece this morning on how author Raymond Carver is remembered in his hometown of Yakima, Washington. It is titled “Against Expectations, Yakima-Bred Raymond Carver Wrote for the Whole World.” Carver died at the young age of 50, in 1988, of lung cancer.  During his short life, the National Book Award nominee was credited with helping to revitalize the short story. He was also an avid angler, who sometimes fished with other literary figures of his generation.

Following is Carver’s “The River” (Ultramarine, Random House, 1986).

I  waded, deepening, into the dark water.
Evening, and the push
and swirl of the river as it closed
around my legs and held on.
Young grilse broke water.
Parr darted one way, smolt another.
Gravel turned under my boots as I edged out.
Watched by the furious eyes of king salmon.
Their immense heads turned slowly,
eyes burning with fury, as they hung
in the deep current.
They were there. I felt them there,
and my skin prickled. But
there was something else.
I braced with the wind on my neck.
Felt the hair rise
as something touched my boot.
Grew afraid at what I couldn’t see.
Then of everything that filled my eyes—
that other shore heavy with branches,
the dark lip of the mountain range behind.
And this river that had suddenly
grown black and swift.
I drew breath and cast anyway.
Prayed nothing would strike.

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