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Salmon

How salmon love
sex enough to fight uphill in waters blasting
brilliant, some
one hundred mph (fact-checkers,
forget it, I’m close.) How we stood, old inkling
of such exhausting omg
Darwin would have… (the difference, the same-
thingness, animal hungers and fury and persistence,
the belief, some amazing something next)
exploded!—his head
on a pillow most afternoons in the parlor, wrapped
in her quiet concern. Emma
the perfect nurse, they say, who married the perfect patient,
Victorian fable, velvet-striped wallpaper even
on the ceiling would be my guess.
Because that trip he took in youth is
everlasting youth, island of
huge tortoises and the tiny cactus finch
plus that other
green spot in the sea, its DNA trace
of the grand extinct Dodo
too trusting to run from sailors with their clubs, too weird,
and bigger, certainly more
feathered and blank-eyed than one impossible
irreplaceable Great Uncle Cedric
I heard of, just wanting a little honest-to-god
barbeque at the wedding.
The forces of life
are mysterious. But thrilling
and painful, August in Alaska near
Seward, gone up in a firestorm during
the quake, 1964, any year in a fade next to our
stunned standing at the salmon weir,
a patch of woods, sunlit river
raging, those bright muscle-creatures blown back
at it at it leaping, failing spectacular
upstarts all over again
human. What it means to
love is speechless.