Saturday, October 28, 2017

One spring afternoon on the Portland Esplanade while the salmon are running

The man with the camera laughs,
tugs at his coppery beard—“That’s awesome,
I just stopped to watch the gulls—”

screaming, wheeling, a white cloud of excitement
diving to snatch scraps from the roiling Willamette
where a head, a doglike carnivore head
tosses a fish up, grabs it and shakes.

Home for him is some rocky islet maybe off Newport
except in summer when they head to the California coast
for sex, like humans might. In spring they follow salmon
up rivers, into towns, into downtown Portland

where I’m standing when he finishes his meal and takes off
upstream, south, leaving behind the gulls
and a few stray scales. I’m running, metal ramps clang
under my feet, from Steel to Burnside, Burnside to Morrison

trying to keep him in sight. He swims faster than I can run.
He dives and leaves me breathless, sweating. I picture him
hunting the cold green waters as far as Oregon City.
The river smells of fish guts.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

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