Northwest Schools of Literature: Texts

1. David Wagoner, "Song for the Bones of Salmon"

David Wagoner, Traveling Light Collected and New Poems. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999.

I have counted your bones,
Salmon, my sister,
Even the thin gillbones
Like the nets of Spider.
Only a few are broken.
Let this song be those bones.

Let it be the scales lost
On the hard stones
Where you strained at nesting.
Let my song be your cupped eye
Where the flies have come for days
As if to the last spring.

Let it be your flesh,
The long muscles stronger
Than the white water.
Let my song fill your mouth
Like your own strange breath,
The wind inside the river.

Now go downstream swiftly,
Your mouth to its mouth.
Take my song into the salt.
Feed long, feed for us both,
And I will wait gladly
Till you come again to die.

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