To Squamish Waters


A Duwamish man told the story
to my daughter at a school assembly.
He drummed in a world
of children who walk into the water
and who return as Salmon
for the villagers to eat.

Now she worries beyond reason
for the Salmon boys and Salmon girls —
the ones who will not walk again
should the drying bones of last night’s dinner
not be returned to sea.

Always the ocean down our street
keeps up its chop and spit and rush
and I pay bills, sack lunches, wash clothes
in cycles spinning my hand-me-down story,
the one I will not give her.

She plucks each bone of a stolen story
from the dish in her hands
and feeds them to the waves that slosh
against her legs like underpinnings
of a miles-long pier.