Archived Story

Making their way upstream

Published 10:57am Friday, August 10, 2012

To the editor:
On my trip to Alaska I was fortunate enough to witness a run of Chinook salmon making their way upstream.
We were a few hundred miles inland and they still hadn’t reached their final destination.
It was a calm area as hundreds upon hundreds of them stood still, just fanning their tails and taking a rest before they moved on.  Some in front took off again upstream as new ones joined in the rear for a respite. A few were thoroughly exhausted and they began to change color and attempt to spawn.
I found myself looking down on them with a sense of pity.  The thought has lingered with me so I  decided to write a poem, you may make of it what you will.
~ Leonard Rizzo

Pity the poor salmon
Spawned in an esturary of an uphill stream
fulfilling the destiny of their parents dream,
Giving their lives in an unending scheme,
so starts the life of the salmon.
Clinging to life with unerring devotion,
making its’ way to a nearby ocean,
avoiding the hunters who have the notion,
to end the life of the salmon.
Reaching adulthood in the vast open sea,
paying the price for the right to be free,
knowing by instinct the things that must be,
in the everyday life of the salmon.
Then struggling upstream to the place it must spawn,
eluding all danger from midnight til dawn,
giving its’ life so life can go on,
in the unchanging world of the salmon.
I’ve studied this creature and sometimes I’d cry,
the fool that I was, life passing me by,
till the day that I asked, Dear God, who am I,
to pity the poor salmon.

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