Silver and shimmering
they swim upstream on a mad errand.
Death-defying leaps against walls of water,
then up over the crest
only to be met by the guardians of heaven
standing twelve feet tall and salivating.
Immense jaws open wide to reveal steel knives:
glimmering shiny bodies hanging, helpless,
like towels blowing in the wind.
They go on like a huge ice floe,
miraculously arriving at the familiar shallows,
the life force emerging phosphorescent.
Whereupon, totally spent, they change hue
and become part of the stream bottom,
picked at and scavenged by white-headed birds
who’ve been waiting there for centuries.
Poem by Alan Harawitz Illustration by S. Stracqualursi