Anadrome Chorus

salmon print

Hear now the anadrome song of the salmon
loud from source sweet to bitter sea
sung in voiceless bubble chorus
carried by current and tide
slips strong to saltback
then to struggle again
returns turbulent
roll and roil
milt and
egg

Sing we of the bright clear jostle of gravel
We, clad all in a bubble
O, the memory of the yolk-sac!
O, the monstrous wiggle!
Slither from cellophane womb
into the rush
running through our veins
to the veins of the star-flecked river
to the veins of tide and current
The pulse of the sea

Stooping in wonder over a widening pool
balanced, just, on grey-yellow lava
rock tantalized by twitch-quick salmonid
starflash they flee unafraid from her
clumsy
fingers

We know all; We learn nothing
Our myriad eggs reduced to fewer hatchlings,
reduced to fewer smolts, reduced to fewer yearlings
We who escape the rusty cull of the crayfish
the blue piercing dive of the kingfisher.
We, few, feel the surge of release
turning our tails on pool, on riffle, on shallow
We flee

We have not been here; We know this place
Wind Driven River
star-flecked, sky-wide
vast cavernous palace
a green we can taste
a hundred days
that mean nothing
blind but to our urge
We crave salt

Afloat on the delta
She dips her paddles
one then the other
along the rockbound jetty turning
she leaves the safety of the bay
and her childdeep wisdom
for the foolish song of the sea

Seaborne strong of purpose, many again
We do not fear the razor tooth of
the shark. Slashing we devour
more than we are devoured
We feast and increase
By fluke and fin
We increase

She in her narrow boat
beyond the sheltering confines
of bank and bay finds
the curling wave
the rolling embrace
the crash of desire
the seasweet churn
the ache of ascent
Salt yielding salt
Blood begetting blood

Arrival is a mass we endure
a writhing
the shock of the bitter
the shock of the sweet
the scent
the funk of our birth

No rock, no wall, no dam
there are no barriers
We follow the scent trail, inexorable
The leap is nothing
The next pool is all

Once, the guide book states,
Indians would congregate
in their droves, in their multitudes,
on wild basalt ramparts,
to spear, net, trap, and beguile
the wily, instinct driven salmon.
Now, still-water pools oily.
What was once, was once.

Again, again, again
by fluke and fin
we return again
sea sides
silver sleek
black now once bright
crookback shot with white

To champ hooklined jaw
To chase and be chased
To entwine in contest
To dig tailform pit
O, the scent!
To sperm
To egg

Wahclella – a stream, a small canyon
A short trail which promises (and delivers)
all the beauty of the Columbia Gorge.
Known for the drama of its salmon run
as they return each year from the sea.
At the juncture, continue straight to return to your car.

My hips. My knees.
This trail is steep.

Jesus! Can you smell that?
A thousand rotting fish.
They swim all that way just to die.
Sad. Drop their eggs then dead.
(As I dropped mine)
Poetic,  in its way, despite the stench.
No! I’ll come a few times more before I tie it up.

Shining stream
Ponderous remnant tree
Rising canyon
When we can go no further
A waterfall
appearing improbably
out of a moss rimmed slot
falling
falling
suddenly
at our feet

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