by Karla Lynn Merrifield
When the ice thaws & the first floes
leave for their long passage down channel
all the ghost salmon return in a spring
ritual to the site where white water
falls into the cove & shadow of commerce
in the red flesh of their brethren falls
on their ghostly silver bodies, on all
the hollow memories of their lost species.
It is a celebration of demise—
not theirs—but that of the hungriest ones,
those alien creatures with machinery,
tin cans, solder, steam, a greedy streak,
a killing instinct, shamelessness.
The ghost salmon return to the shambles
& the silence, to the clean scents
of rotting wood & rusting steel,
the long, slow fade of human sanctimony.
The ghost salmon return & return & return
until a new tide turns, bringing
again their living kind from the sea
to this native place, their place on earth.
—from Godwit: Poems of Canada (FootHills Publishing)
Karla Linn Merrifield, a National Park Artist-in-Residence, has 12 books to her credit; the newest is Bunchberries, More Poems of Canada. She is assistant editor and book reviewer for The Centrifugal Eye. Give her name a Google to read more and visit her at http://karlalinn.blogspot.com.