BEI Fellow Readings: Judith Roche

Recorded at the annual Black Earth Institute gathering: Art and Literature Lab, Madison; Oct 7th, 2017

 

Judith Roche

Chinook/Sockeye  August to September (October)

				Aflame with the crimson color of marriage, the salmon
				Seek their lovers.
				For the salmon, the act
				Spinning out life
				Is an act of death
				For the salmon
				Life lives in death.
				The salmon bets its life on love.
					“Salmon Coming Home in Search of Sacred Bliss”
					Mieko Chikappu, translated from the Ainu by Jane
					Corddry Langill with Rie Taki and Judith Roche

 

The River Dance

Choose the site for depth and current
            water flow and roll.
Turn, push and burrow gravel,
            deepen the redd.
Settle in to test the depth.
Busy while the males fight
            to get to me,
                        the prize,
            my hope chest full of posterity.

I choose the reddest one-
            Aflame with the crimson color of marriage,
torn and tattered but flushing
            deep burgundy slash mark pattern.

I pass back and forth over him
            caressing his back and sides
                        while the others drift away,
                        all their fire fading to dull gray.

Crouching together we hover
            pulsing along the thin dark stripes,
            our lateral lines, sensing
                        every quiver,
throbbing our ancient dance of love and risk.

Spinning out our lives
            we love each other to death.

 

 
––
 

Coho/Chinook/Sockeye  September to October (November)

				The salmon die
				Ahh, so tenderly.
					“Salmon Coming Home in Search of Sacred Bliss”
					Mieko Chikappu, translated from the Ainu by Jane
					Corddry Langill with Rie Taki and Judith Roche

 

Ghost Salmon

Everything draws down toward autumn
and the way light is broken in splintered color
            we are broken to feed the multitudes
                        take, eat, this is my body
                                    this is my blood
eagle and osprey
            raven and bear,
                        stonefly and gull
                                    tear my flesh.
My silt settles and salts the stream
            cedar and fern,
                        algae and fungi,
                                    ameba and protozoa
                                                suck a rich soup.
My body emptied of eggs,
            milky milt settled,
completing
                        the circle,
                                    eelgrass and catkin,
                                                cougar and lynx,
creating life from the dead,
Food for the stream,
            I feed all comers.

 

Comments are closed.