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[It wasn't the river coming into me]

It wasn't the river coming into me
wasn't the load of glacial silt the boils
of current the eddies shifting sandbars
driftwood gulls crying endlessly of want
the nested eagles' bickering. Wasn't salmon
either though I was there to catch them
brought my daughter there to catch them
the mountain itself concealed by cloud
then not on the exposed sandbar in a valley
the boundaries of which are disputed
by tribe and state. I held a net in the water
and hoped beyond hope a salmon would swim
in. It wasn't the glacier grinding a mountain
to powder wasn't the wind blowing mountain
into my eyes wasn't clouds by a river
large enough to create its own weather.
My daughter and I held the net together
hoping. Many salmon passed upstream
just out of reach. Wasn't the day shower
cloud the mountain emerging. Wasn't
water almost glacier which would kill us
for sure sink us to the bottom clothes
loaded with powdered mountain if we
lost our footing on the slippery rocks.
Wasn't the rocks themselves rounder
round each year with the river's silt
polishing boulders stones pebbles sand.
We could see an eagle far across the river
see water swirling upstream in eddies
while the mass of water came down
rising in the afternoon with the sun
melting the glacier faster shattering
into maelstrom whirlpool current to sweep
us away seeking fish. One king salmon swam
upstream to spawn and into our current
stretched net. We pulled her together
to shore and gutted her there saving roe
for eating and to cure for bait. Her flesh
was oily delicious beyond the others orange
beyond orange and we ate her made her us.

Derick Burleson

Marick Press

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