Time of salmon

Capilano River

From a wooden bridge I watch coho and chinook jump in the Capilano river.
First there is a black line deep in the clear green water,
then a quick-rising cylinder of silver breaks the surface
—a brief arch of twisting energy—  
then a slipping under, and with three quick flits of caudal fin,
back to a black outline leaving only a white foam of memory on the water.

These green waters under the yellow spruce and red cedar,
stippled by salmon making their last hard run upriver,
are older than the hemlock and fir,
older than the angular face of the granite below.

This day is like the flash of a breaching salmon.
My best state, like speckled foam on the water.
And all my days together are a handbreadth.

From this height I see my reflection,
variegated, fluid, and drawn down stream.
I am part river. My cells are full of clear green water.
I am also part Sitka and lovely amabilis fir.
And I am the banana slug and pika, the brown creeper and chum,
I am the trail the burrow the branch the runnel.
Should I decry the brevity of this life? Does the salmon?


  1. Beautiful. Should we decry the brevity of life? We just do, as I think we should. And if salmon don’t, it’s because we’re having more fun, with potential to leave a mark that perhaps goes a little beyond theirs:)

  2. Love the rhythm of the last part…

    “a white foam of memory”….wow, what a wonderful way to capture the essence of salmon. I’ve never seen one in the wild. This piece makes me really want to.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *