By Nancy Deschu, Anchorage
Salmon are running, pink and red, occasional king,
returning to natal waters to spawn and die,
the young swept to sea, fatten, then home again –
the circle, stream to sea, sea to stream.
Pull the net, pick the fish, drop the net, pull the next,
over and over, a rough meditation for hours.
Salmon slosh around the bottom of the boat,
slap against our brown boots, slowly drown.
The shark circles, attacks the netted salmon, twists and tangles, drowns in surface air,
a sea lion holds its breath, tears the shark, then swims to shore, to rest, digest,
sleep among the hungry ravens that own this beach.
The bread rises, falls, and rises again.
Salmon filleted, apples sliced, carrots diced,
the salt in the sea, the sea in our blood,
assimilation of fish into fishermen’s flesh.
The tide runs out, the beach widens – cobbles, clam shells, bull kelp, cockles, scallop,
mussels, limpets, lichen, purple sea star, crab leg, whale bone, trail of river otter, splash
of sea otter, scent of fox, sea lion scat, our footprints in the soft sand.
The tide returns, the beach narrows,
the skiff drifts out on its running line,
water pulled by the moon,
and we follow the flow
as we have since we came into being.