River Love Salmon Fight Song in Two Parts

May 8, 2020

Today’s poem is “River Love Salmon Fight Song in Two Parts" by Jefferson Navicky and Megan Grumbling.  Jefferson is the author of poetic novel, The Book of Transparencies, and the story collection, The Paper Coast. He is the archivist for the Maine Women Writers Collection, teaches English at Southern Maine Community College, and lives in Freeport.  Megan Grumbling’s first book, Booker’s Point, was the winner of the 2017 Maine Book Award for Poetry and the 2015 Vassar Miller Prize. She is also the librettist of the spoken opera Persephone in the Late Anthropocene, a co-creation with the late composer Denis Nye, which premiered in 2017 at SPACE Gallery.

They write, “Our friend and documentarian, Caroline Losneck, asked us both to write poems about salmon for an upcoming podcast series by The Atlantic Salmon Federation. First we both panicked, because neither of us felt like salmon poems were in our poetic sweet spot, so we decided to write collaborative poems. We met for brunch one day, and wrote two exquisite corpse poems together. We each took one poem home to edit. 'River Love Salmon Fight Song in Two Parts' is Jefferson's take-home poem.”

River Love Salmon Fight Song in Two Parts 
(a collaboration between Jefferson Navicky and Megan Grumbling)

I.
Like every living thing
our heart broke when born, then
broke again to get back, the current
to swim against, the riverbed stones
we once resembled, the bottom of the way
back home to lay in the black slippery hole
to remember and to go on down.

II.
At the mouth where the salt 
sticks they’ve come up with numbers
that mean something to someone
but they can keep their numbers
grief goes beyond counting
fear means nothing to us
we’ll still build our house upriver
like every living thing we always come home

Poem copyright ©2019 Jefferson Navicky.