It’s still icy run off
but the little crowd gathered along the roadside’s
in shirtsleeves
munching maple sugar-on-snow
and the white white glint of afternoon sun on snow’s
dazzling as the quick silver
of salmon lifted
from the dying falls into the motionless canal

the men’s bright gloved hands
squeeze-strip-slip milt into buckets
slosh and the fish is bumping
with a hundred others in a glass-
walled lock—

they are denied
the little brooks,
riverlets of their birth
no true spawning, no clean
nests of pushed pebbles

land-locked, they have a chance at renewal,
don’t turn
the senile red of their beaked ocean cousins,
but I don’t know if these captives
live past this emptying,
if men return
them to the lake
or if their dulling muscle goes
to dankly fertilize
cow corn or to waste

and what I remember as a festival
of spring must really come
with dying light
in fall

but the little egg-lets
the fingerlings
glow in their haunted aquariae
months, years, then a handslength,
stock again
my heavy lake



IBBETSON STREET PRESS 25 School Street, Somerville, MA 02143