Here you will find the Long Poem Part 7 of Trout Fishing in America of poet Richard Brautigan
THE PUDDING MASTER OF STANLEY BASIN Tree, snow and rock beginnings, the mountain in back of the lake promised us eternity, but the lake itself was filled with thousands of silly minnows, swimming close to the shore and busy putting in hours of Mack Sennett time. The minnows were an Idaho tourist attraction. They should have been made into a National Monument. Swimming close to shore, like children they believed in their own im- mortality . A third-year student in engineering at the University of Montana attempted to catch some of the minnows but he went about it all wrong. So did the children who came on the Fourth of July weekend. The children waded out into the lake and tried to catch the minnows with their hands. They also used milk cartons and plastic bags. They presented the lake with hours of human effort. Their total catch was one minnow. It jumped out of a can full of water on their table and died under the table, gasp- ing for watery breath while their mother fried eggs on the Coleman stove. The mother apologized. She was supposed to be watching the fish --THIS IS MY EARTHLY FAILURE-- holding the dead fish by the tail, the fish taking all the bows like a young Jewish comedian talking about Adlai Stevenson. The third-year student in engineering at the University of Montana took a tin can and punched an elaborate design of holes in the can, the design running around and around in circles, like a dog with a fire hydrant in its mouth. Then he attached some string to the can and put a huge salmon egg and a piece of Swiss cheese in the can. After two hours of intimate and universal failure he went back to Missoula, Montana. The woman who travels with me discovered the best way to catch the minnows. She used a large pan that had in its bottom the dregs of a distant vanilla pudding. She put the pan in the shallow water along the shore and instantly, hun- dreds of minnows gathered around. Then, mesmerized by the vanilla pudding, they swam like a children's crusade into the pan. She caught twenty fish with one dip. She put the pan full of fish on the shore and the baby played with the fish for an hour. We watched the baby to make sure she was just leaning on them a little. We didn't want her to kill any of them be- cause she was too young. Instead of making her furry sound, she adapted rapidly to the difference between animals and fish, and was soon making a silver sound. She caught one of the fish with her hand and looked at it for a while. We took the fish out of her hand and put it back into the pan. After a while she was putting the fish back by herself. Then she grew tired of this. She tipped the pan over and a dozen fish flopped out onto the shore. The children's game and the banker's game, she picked up those silver things, one at a time, and put them back in the pan. There was still a little water in it. The fish liked this. You could tell. When she got tired of the fish, we put them back in the lake, and they were all quite alive, but nervous. I doubt if they will ever want vanilla pudding again.