Something to see, those flashes
of red in the clear river, a miracle
to me, who grew without
this kind of seeing. The river then
held brook trout mostly, some rainbows
my father and I fished for,
up a trail somewhere near—
a town forgotten. Though still
I see the aspen, where he carved our names, Dad & Bug, with his knife. Sharp then,
was my father, who is now in heaven.
And those kokanee, that red which turns
redder the closer they get to death,
are like so many lives—dogwood, huckleberry
leaves, rowan, those seeds of sunset. My father
worsened at sunset, as is common with Alzheimer’s.
He’d open the gate, leave my childhood
home, saying his mother was calling,
and he had to go, I have to go home. He was 74 and he left bruises on my mother.
Fluvial wrists reddened, then purple spawned
up her arm, as we all watched, helpless,
as I do now, this thin river, natal waters,
these kokanee giving their lives, to new life,
forgetting this home. As if they already know
there is a heaven,
and the only way to get there
is through the color red.