From spawn to that moment of clarity,
The salmon lives in, through, and with the water.
To swim thoughtless to the open sea
And hunt and hide in the river's daughter,
And to wend its way back again,
Borne by ancient yearning,
Is fused within eye, tail, scale, and fin --
To evermore be returning.
Shining in the dappled sun
Or nestled in cloudy seas,
No pensive mariner, but with the water one;
Celebrant of the oceans' mysteries.
But comes the moment when the oneness fails.
The thoughts recoil across the years to birth
And joyous cycles of spawn
And, turning again, careen forward to futures unlived --
One more race against the river (there is always one more).
But memories and dreams are ended
As the salmon is hauled into the choking air
By that white line that casts its fate.
So were my thoughts upon my first gray hair.