Late October, the rains come, just
as the maples turn yellow, the alders brown.
The creek swells, deepens its voice,
an adolescent river, testing its tumultuous
pubescence against rocks that yesterday
stood well away. Where the tide eddies,
crimson salmon churn in the
pebbled scent of home.
Dawn eases out of night; mist hardly
distinguishes from cloud or forest’s edge.
Raindrops pock the water, ripple out.
A tethered fly whips out and back,
lights gently upstream and drifts back
on limp line, dragging silence.
Gulls cry famine, and across the stream
a small black bear sniffs a new rendition
of the ancient dance of water, fish and riverbed.
Time stretches, languorous like a cat.
Over its shoulder the rain has always
sung the salmon home. Someone stands
here always on the sandy bank to welcome them.
The bear will always push through salal
because winter comes and the berries will be gone.
The gulls cry again and there is only now.
Hugh Anderson lives on Vancouver Island in the unceded territory of the Snaw-naw-as people. He has grandchildren and thus the world gives him both dreams and nightmares. Recent publications include Vallum, Right Hand Pointing, Praxis Magazine Online, Panoplyzine and 3elements review. He has one Pushcart Prize nomination.