Salmon Summers


The fishermen’s wives
don’t have to worry about
men chasing tail. Two months
on the boat and the men have
gone electric. That’s what
the vets call it after
a few seasons of catching
salmon runs. Even the
greenhorn kid gets it.
By week three of summer
their bodies are programmable,
minds disconnected from spines
like chickens scurrying minutes
after their heads are lopped off.
There’s no place for women here,
no words for women here.
Go fuck yourself (translation:
reel in the line faster).
You’re a fucking piece
of fuck
(translation: sort
the catch faster). Don’t be
a fucking pig
stop eating the salmon
you caught). Here, their minds
harken back to when lobster
was still a poor fisherman’s food.
Day in, day out, each salmon
caught, cleaned, sorted.
They go to sleep picking
fish guts out of ocean-sprayed hair.
Verging on summer solstice
they can almost feel the
sinew severing from their bones.
Of course, the wives don’t
feel the sacrifice. They see
only the faces, somehow both
burned from twenty-four hours
of sun and apparently drained
colorless, can’t seem to figure
how these two months in
Alaska turned their bodies into stone.