Thursday, November 1, 2007

A poem for November

I always try to read this Richard Hugo poem on the first of November. It seemed like a good poem to memorize this month.

Skykomish River Running

Aware that summer baked the water clear,
today I came to see a fleet of trout.
But as I wade the salmon limp away,
their dorsal fins like gravestones in the air,
on their sides the red that kills the leaves.
Only sun can beat a stream this thin.
The river Sky is humming in my ear.

Where this river empties in the sea,
trout are waiting for September rain
to sting their thirst alive. If they speed
upstream behind the kings and eat the eggs
the silvers lay, I’ll pound the drum for rain.
But sunlight drums, the river is the same,
running like old water in my ear.

I will cultivate the trout, teach their fins
to wave in water like the legs of girls
tormented black in pools. I will swim a
week to be a witness to the spawning,
be a trout, eat the eggs of salmon—
anything to live until the trout and rain
are running in the river in my ear.

The river Sky is running in my hair.
I am floating past the troutless pools
learning water is the easy way to go.
I will reach the sea before December
when the Sky is turning gray and wild
and rolling heavy from the east to say
late autumn was an Oriental child.

—Richard Hugo

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