Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Of Salmon

by Julia Fricke Robinson

For what are we anyway, but salmon
flipping, flopping
as far as 2,000 miles upstream
refusing food, hardly daring to breathe
longing toward the water of our birth
leaping, straining, following our noses
to our own regeneration

Water, once clean and cool
like rain, before acid became an adjective
before clear-cutting sent armloads
of untethered earth avalanching down slopes
into rivers, like a woman's menses
cleaning hills of their barrenness
clogging spawning fields like over-filled tampons

And what have we to give each other
but more of the same
more flipping, more flopping
more daily rehashing of too-long days
across six o'clock news
no mention of the sunset
no strains of Beethoven, Mozart or Vivaldi

What more do we have to hope for
after all these years of freedom
having done it all at least once
having loved and lost
having wanted but not dared
having agonized without surrender
it is all so old

Yet in the deep throaty yawns of memory
I recall, only fleetingly, the taste of you
the shimmer of mucus on the new-born thought
the seduction of untainted pleasure

And, in that memory, an old gene
a left-over spark of a story not yet told
stirs, and I listen, as the salmon
unmindful of the end of the world
hearts straining to remember
struggle upstream once more

* * * * *

"Of Salmon" is from Julia Fricke Robinson's memoir All I Know (2020).

Julia Fricke Robinson divides her time between visiting children and grandchildren in Colorado, Indiana and New York and living, dancing and writing in a community of artists, writers, performers, activists and otherwise interesting people in beautiful Silver City, New Mexico, where the weather is just about perfect.


  1. The intertwined analogies work well. Somehow Dylan wriggles in there with "It's life, and life only."

  2. I read a headline today that our tires are causing salmon population to decline! And we're all connected, eh? Thank you, Julia!