In this shallow creek
they flop and writhe forward as the dead
float back toward them. Oh, I know
what I should say: fierce burning in the body
as her eggs burst free, milky cloud
of sperm as he quickens them. I should stand
on the bridge with my camera,
frame the white froth of rapids where one
arcs up for an instant in its final grace.
But I have to go down among
the rocks the glacier left
and squat at the edge of the water
where a stinking pile of them lies,
where one crow balances and sinks
its beak into a gelid eye.
I have to study the small holes
gouged into their skin, their useless gills,
their gowns of black flies. I can't
make them sing. I want to,
but all they do is open
their mouths a little wider
so the water pours in
until I feel like I'm drowning.
On the bridge the tour bus waits
and someone waves, and calls down
It's time, and the current keeps lifting
dirt from the bottom to cover the eggs.
From Tell Me by Kim Addonizio. Copyright © 2000 by Kim Addonizio. Reprinted by permission of BOA Editions, Ltd. All rights reserved. From http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/16212 accessed 5/29/08
Despite what you may hear in the speaker's tone of voice, this is a poem of hopeful expectation. "Blessed are those who have not seen but believe." I have a copy of Tell Me but I don't remember this poem as being in there. I'm glad to see this at www.poets.org. To give you an idea what a poetry geek I am, I mailed my copy of Tell Me to Ms. Addonizio in California from my home in Saginaw (Michigan, where I was living at the time) to ask her to sign it. That was several years ago already. She signed the title page “For Andy who knows how to pass it on. With thanks and good wishes, Kim”' and on the next page she signed her full name. Then she sent it back to me in the self-addressed, postage-paid envelope I included. Yay autographs!
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