Henrietta: A Summer Love
by Joe Cottonwood
I do not claim to own this creek
but it flows through my property
and perhaps I own each day’s gurgle
that wakes me, and beds me, alone
after a winter of slow goodbye.
Today, a new sound: splash and thrash.
A salmon the size of an otter
struggles upstream over gravel,
pool to pool where she rests, gathers strength
for the next leap and spurt
driven by a memory she does not remember.
Nine miles from the Pacific she stops
at this dark pool under my footbridge.
In a drought year, no farther. Henrietta,
I christen thee after my favorite aunt
who has your face.
I do not claim to own this fish
but all summer she hovers in shadow,
fins barely moving, facing upstream.
Water enters, water departs
too shallow each way for escape.
At the post office I happen to…
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