The Salmon Migrate
by Isabel Chenot

The cedars will grow taller in my mind.
Bears will fatten for hard weather,
beavers will dive,
eagles will eat their fill.

Because I saw the salmon
thrust like shafts from
the river,

up a rugged hill

from which snowmelt and rain crashes,
scenting a droplet from
a pool that calls them

into the air,

not holding back
where rocks dash,
eagles tear,
bears grind.

The cedars will stab heaven in my mind
because the salmon fight


the clarity of birth.

A few unshattered and uneaten will arrive disfigured,
scoured with sores.
And they will breed, exhausted, in the crystal pool
they cannot breathe.

Their grown salt-hardy gills cannot survive
that purity where they began.
Their nerves adapted far below
have lost the knack
of swimming in a cloud-vein.

And their relentless, battering pilgrimage
for the bright origin will kill them,
one way or another.
The pilgrims cannot bear the haven's light.

The ones who seek and find
will breed more salmon
who will seek;
the ones who find
will breed again,
and die.

And die,

and die…

The cedars by the river
pierce the sky.


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