03 Oct Poem: Seeing Salmon
Seeing salmon swim
in the pickup truck size aquarium
at Bear Creek Salmon Festival 2022
moved me, shifted me.
Their size, their sleek strength,
their millennia-long upriver journeys.
Takelma elder Grandma Aggie’s teaching
of “Salmon nation,”
of “all our relations”
reverberates within my mind.
Do I want to eat these “relations”
Later, I see bright chunks of god-stuff
in fish form
grilling by an open fire, Takelma style,
here for all ages to taste.
They have been gently guided on to
decades-used sharp redwood skewers
by Native elder Tom Smith.
Grandma Aggie speaks within me again:
“Honor and give thanks”
for these relations
we depend on for our very lives.
So I savor the vibrant flesh
for the Parks Department staff
and Native American wisdom-holders
and caring Ashland volunteers
who made this community Salmon Festival
Most of all,
I give thanks to
the Circle of Life creator
of salmon, community, and me
for this day in the Circle.