The Day After Thanksgiving

Day After Thanksgiving

This razor-bright morning, I hike the South Fork
of the Nooksack to see the salmon running.
Up from oceans, following some scent of granite,
they’ve sliced their way to these beds of gravel
to spawn and die. More are dead, now,
than swimming, in the water sharded at its edges
by ice, their brown and silver bodies piling
where the steep stream pools.

I hike higher, up a logging road, its skin graveled
with small stones like salmon scales
and layered with copper leaves:
fish-shaped, blade-like, their centers rotting,
serrated edges glinting and steely with frost.

I rest at the edge of a clear cut and watch
the peaks of the Twin Sisters tear
their slow bite into the sky–rock and snow
piercing the blue–and ponder how all this dying
puts a point on the tip of gratitude,
hooking in the throat like barb-cold air,
sharp like salt on the tongue.

By Jennifer Bullis
Originally published in Cascadia Review, April 15 2013. In Impossible Lessons, p. 53.

4 comments on “The Day After Thanksgiving

  1. Gorgeous images. “Point on the tip of gratitude.” Nice. Were there any eagles?

    • Thank you so much, Jilanne! As for eagles, I’d been hoping for some, but oddly, the only time I ever saw eagles in that spot was in the late summer!

      I hear some salmon runs have been restored in your local rivers. Do you ever get to see accompanying wildlife there?

      • We’ve gone camping at Samuel P. Taylor state park, but we haven’t been there when the salmon are running. We went kayaking this morning in Bodega Bay. Clear and in the low 60s. A very friendly seal followed us around. Now the fog has rolled in, and we are heading out for a hike near Salmon Creek just north of Bodega Bay. I give thanks for living near such a spectacular place!

      • Sounds like a fantastic day outdoors!

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