Saturday, May 31, 2014


Salmon Run, Kagawong, September 2013


Lovers who met in our forties, we decided not to have a child.
A year later, we hold hands along this teeming river, where the cold
is already prying a few flushed leaves from the maples.
I want my wife's breasts. She undoes a button and takes my hands
into the warmth under her clothes, against the living skin,
and I waver near regret, never knowing if the choice was wisdom
or cowardice, unwilling to risk chaos, unwilling to pay the time,
our melancholy, grown-up caution before the violence of desire ---
but, as if her body were knowledge, I touch
her beside this water and tell myself I know our child,
curled hank of vein and bone swimming through her
that would have knotted our temporary blood to all this falling and surge.


I have never seen this before:
the traveled fish thrash uphill,
stubborn as hammered spikes,

hovering to fan their gills
in the lucid pools, then bursting out,
tails beating the ice-water

over ruffling shoals,
urgent toward reproduction
and death. When one loses

its grip on the water, the current
sweeps it far back, until it catches
somehow and climbs again,

each a thick, single-minded
sleeve of flesh pulsing
like a horse's thigh muscle.

The untiring, convulsive salmon
whip themselves over
the slick, algae-green stones,

against the also stubborn
invisible current, yellow-
black ripples of shimmer and

thrust --- or, each a fist
clenched on roe or milt,
they punch a tunnel through water

to quiet where they will gasp
and drop their milky heat
into the dangerous chill of this world.

1 comment:

  1. i can't help but think of our child as each salmon or as each natural thing we encounter, porcupine, possum, bear, moose not so distant scraping his antlers in the forest, just as i can not resist feeling we are their child. and so while we have not risked the chaos in this one way (and a part of me will always mourn what we did not dare to create) i feel we hover close to chaos, together. i do not wish to take any further shelter.

    your poem, how it flexes inside language with the world's movement, is gorgeous. you know already how i recount each line's gesture, how i touch each line, each image, like ribs)))