Lighter Side
December 10th, 2000
The Last Day by Deanna Lee Birkholm
The mist so fine it was almost invisible.
Not leaving even pockmarks on the water . . .
Polished steel gray, fading like an oriental watercolor
thin whips in the distance.
Filmy and dreamlike.

Nearby, squawking gulls sparred
for the remnants of dead salmon.
Salmon who only days ago
were in dark breeding colors,
now white and ghost-like.
Some birds so gorged they could not fly.
Here and there a whole salmon lay undisturbed,
except for the missing eye.
Easy pickings.

Several pair of mallards walking about,
like tourists.
Observing.

A swirl near the mouth of the creek.
A single dorsal fin appears, white edged.
A salmon waiting to die.
Perhaps looking for its mate.
It hangs suspended in the shallows.

There is no distinguishing the horizon.
The slick water finally disappears
into the sky with no visible line.
All blurred together.

There are no pods of incoming fish.
No erratic jumping.
No rush to spawn.
The tide continues to come in.
Still nothing.

A hundred dead salmon litter the beach and creek bed.

A week ago two pair of spawners
prepared redds in the lower creek.
Too close to the high tide line.
Unable to travel farther,
in desperation of instinct,
doing what they could.
Now gone.

The gray darkens.

The wind changes.
The nauseous odor of
long dead fish overwhelming.

The decaying fish providing nutrients
for many others in the food chain.
Sustaining life.

Time repeating itself.
Another year.

Gone.
~ Deanna Lee Birkholm



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