“The Salmon River Trail” by Diane Averill

Seeing clearly is not
as easy as it sounds.
A young man, strong and tensile
as a sapling, moved
along the path with
a walking stick. No—
a didgeridoo.
His playing echoed from
the ground in low,
surging waves, dense layers close to the
forest floor, firm,
unbroken
even as he raised it upwards
making sound into silk,
circular breathing keeping
the wild wide open.

We hiked miles, pausing
to see the way the river ran.
Then someone said, There are salmon!
There are salmon spawning!
as rocks turned into fish.
They were moving to stay
in place against the current,
males and females beaten
to white patches. They’d followed
their scent-compass to this stream,
circling all the way from Alaska,
back, called back to this
Oregon river bed where they were born.
Females flayed at the gravel,
then males rushed in,
sending white spumes over egg clusters,

and our breathing as we watched
became slow and deep, a quiet, forest music,
recalling the player and his didgeridoo.

 

 

Diane Averill‘s books, Branches Doubled Over With Fruit, published by the University of Florida Press, and Beautiful Obstacles, published by Blue Light Press of Iowa, were finalists for the Oregon Book Award in Poetry. She has had two other books and three chapbooks published since then. Her poems appear in literary magazines around the country and in Great Britain. Her work appears in magazines such as The Bitter Oleander, CALYX, Clackamas Review, CIRQUE, Poetry Northwest, and Talking River. Diane holds an M.F.A degree from The University of Oregon and taught at Clackamas Community College until her retirement.

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