Trying to get home

Trying to get home

It has just turned fall here in the Pacific Northwest which means the leaves are starting to change colour, the nights have cooled and the rain has begun its slow descent upon us. This is a time of gathering, of reflection and of coming home – all things that sometimes hang bittersweet. These themes are all present in the newly finished poem below about the most admirable of homeward bound journeys – that of a spawning salmon. *Artwork credit: Coho female, Alison Farrer

 

Silver Pilgrim

Drawn by biology
Ancient and mysterious
A magnetic pull deep in my guts
A pungent scent deep in my nose
Defenceless to its power, I became
Spellbound. Numb. Controlled
Mercury drummed in my heart

Moon shadows traced blue veins
Singularly mapped to me
A path invisible but for the morning light
Destination unknown but inescapable
Unearthed by the newfound recognition of time
The weight of finite days, finite breaths bore down upon me
Until one day I awoke and
This silver vessel started swimming 

I began magnificent
Sleek and flashing in the sun
Swollen with accumulated knowledge
Dazzled by myself
But the journey was long
And soon I was humbled
By wisdom that fell like rain
The wounds I carried rose to my skin
And I was betrayed by mottled spots
Wearing my missteps for all to see

I became listless, wall eyed
Circling the delta
Hesitant to heed the calling,
I let a turbid tide surge me forward instead
And when I did finally turn myself upstream
I bashed myself against a wall
Foolish, straining
Trying to find the open door
I leaped
I reached
I hurt
Myself

But still the song filled my mind
Echoing through the water
Sometimes quiet, other times pulsing
So I climbed the concrete ladders
Step by terrible step
And I fought the angry froth
Streaming from my mouth
Until I finally felt the questions leave me
And I felt myself stop
Swirling slowly in a shallow eddy
Scraping myself raw as I prepared for
The next

In the end I die here
Exposed and defenceless
Red with embarrassment and pathetically gasping
My lifeblood spilled on a gravelly bed beside
Unfulfilled dreams
The map fervently imprinted on
Precious cargo strewn over silty grime
This, this is how I end
The sojourner who couldn’t find her way home
But found her way here
And despite all the love thrown
I was
Unseen and alone
In the end

Unseen but for the baleful eye of the eagle that wheeled above
I felt the whoosh of air
Before the claws pinned me
Surprised to still feel pain as my flesh was pierced
Still alive enough to hurt
To feebly cry: Wait. Stop. I’m not done yet
Before the razors of its beak sliced into me
Rendering me mute
And ending this puny gorgeous life