Kokanee salmon swimming in river

One Poem by CMarie Fuhrman

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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.




CMarie FuhrmanCMarie Fuhrman is the author of Camped Beneath the Dam: Poems and co-editor of Native Voices: Indigenous Poetry, Craft, and Conversations. She has published or has forthcoming poetry and nonfiction in multiple journals and several anthologies. CMarie is a regular columnist for the Inlander and translations editor for Broadsided Press. She is the director of the Elk River Writers Workshop and director of poetry at Western Colorado University, where she teaches nature writing. She is also 2021-2023 Idaho Writer in Residence.

Header photo of kokanee salmon by Mariusz Blach, courtesy Adobe Stock. Photo of CMarie Fuhrman by Mel Ota.

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