Leaping salmon

This is for Merril’s prompt at dverse. You can join in here.

Leaping salmon

In the pool beneath the alders,
where sun slants soft as butter through the leaves
and lies in pools of spangled light,
where midges dance, a ripple runs.

Sleek and black and quick as all wild things,
a young one swims, a coypu’s child.

I wish it was an otter,
a sleek and playful otter, never seen,
though longed for as a dog when I was small.

But this small pool and unimportant stream
could never hold the river king,
and I must make do with marsh beavers,
stolid cheerful marsh beavers, making do
with this creek that barely has a name,
paddling their roly-poly roundness,

while I wish for otters and the bright flash
of a salmon-leap, where hazels bend
over other streams, in other dreams.


This haibun, written for Colleen Chesebro’s Tanka Tuesday challenge (Happy Birthday, by the way!) was inspired by thoughts about my grandmother and what she would have (probably did, a million times) wish for after her children died. It could be read as though I don’t think there’s any point striving for change. It isn’t meant that way.  We should and must do what we can to make things better for everyone, is really what I was trying to get across, and not try to unravel a nice little strand of happiness for just our own little selves.


If I could wish I wouldn’t. Too vast and rolling the world I’d shift with my chopping and changing. Go back sixty years and make it so two children didn’t die? How so? Change the way the poor died then through lack of care and no doctor for those who couldn’t pay? Would I stop the trains on the way to the death camps without changing the hatred that sent them there? Nip the hatred in the bud, go back two thousand years? Kill the Christ who started it with his new fangled machine of blame? Would I stop a massacre here only to create a war elsewhere?

No wish is anodyne, no stone so small it will not start an avalanche that I could never master. Life is what it is—hard for many, easy for some. We can dole out handfuls of softness here and there but in the end the stones roll and gather no moss. Only more stones.

Sitting on this stone, teetering on the cliff edge I watch the changing sky and the greening earth. This is the only reality, the magic undercurrent of existence, and that I would never change.


Melts into summer

in a rush of perfumed blooms,

wild, sun-charged growing.

Cherish each falling petal,

no moment ever returns.