Deep Sea Salmon

Dad where have you gone?

Did you leap quicksilver into a big run

of legendary June Hogs now long lost?

Or are you too smart for that?

Did you break through the trap of extinction

holding to the shadows of that dam

in back of my mind—thinking

but not showing much?

 

Once in a great while I hear your voice

and feel a quiet grin in your tone

So I ask again after

all our wrong guesses about each other

Is it me you like

or is it just a charm you like to turn on

that gloves a hard bargain?

 

When your dad came around

did you cover up or trade him blows?

Or maybe you leapt his traps too

and thought yourself free?

No you didn’t beat me but his fist

was still in your hand held back

You couldn’t quite bless anything I did

All the bright eyes you praised

but never your son

Or was it a hard stone you couldn’t explain

that praise breaks hollow against luck

luck that always runs out?

 

But out of our long fishing past

you come in behind me

your hand down over mine

and you whisper that luck has a feel

Let your line drop through a rip

where the current runs against itself

and what might not be there comes into play

Then again if the tide takes you out

deep off the coast I’ll be looking for you

flashing in the dark

 

—Eugene Marckx

 

June Hogs, a salmon species, each eighty pounds or more, up to a million of them migrating along the Columbia River into Canada, were wiped out in 1941 when the Grand Coulee Dam was built.

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