Pacific Salmon Run

You are programmed for your end
(phenoptosis as the scientists say)
as you swim Pacific waters home
for the rivers of your becoming

first alevin to parr then smolt,
freshwater, brackish, to ocean
of your adulthood in your knowing
you must go back for scent pulling

perhaps with Earth’s magnetic field
to anadromous, the thousands of miles
of days and temperatures, environment
triggering timings for birth

alongside passings with exaction,
surrenderings into sacrifice, desired
the head hump jaw teeth growing
in males for the fight of protection

you are swimming upstream, female
and male at mountains of waterfalls
forging into what you must to move
your life to its fading of red

to the paling into ghosts of flesh,
parts of you removed, fallen
disintegration to spread
after the laying of labors
down the fanned gravel of eggs—

continuity of life, riverbed
of oxygen and depth, underwater
quiverings, upwellings—everything
elemental, your returnings to Earth.

Lynne Goldsmith is an award-winning poet who has been published in All-Creatures.OrgInteralia Magazine, Journal for Critical Animal Studies, Not Very Quiet, Plants & Poetry Journal, Red Planet Magazine, Spillway, Thimble Literary Magazine, Tiny Seed Literary Journal, and elsewhere. Her first book, Secondary Cicatrices, won the 2018 Halcyon Poetry Prize and was a 2019 Finalist in the American Book Fest Awards, a 2020 Human Relations Indie Book Award Gold Winner, a 2020 International Book Award Finalist, a 2021 Book Excellence Award Finalist, and a 2021 Distinguished Favorite in the Independent Press Awards.