The salmon smolts ride the back eddies swirling
between boulders at the stream's edge
below the foot bridge, disguised in sunlight
filtered by budding branches,
refracted by undulating ripples,
and reflected by silvery, gray-brown stones:
coho survivors from last April's egg hatch — a growth spurt
away from setting out for the stream's ocean estuary
forty metres downstream.
Darting forays into the current
drifting mayfly nymphs
and dislodged salmon alevins,
until the appointed banquet
gorging on freshly hatched chum salmon,
and cannibalizing this April's coho fry.
The stream's keeper said two pairs of chum,
and three pairs of coho
spawned nearby in the fall.
Why does it matter?
Aerial predators — eagles, king fishers, and crows —
perched high-up on Douglas firs and overhanging boughs of poplars
monitor the stream's expectant refrain.
Wait little alevins. Hide under rocks absorbing your egg sacs.
Wait for rain. Wait until the full moon's high tides caress
the stream's mouth, before emerging as fry to swim
the muddy tidal flats to the Salish Sea.
© Elmer Wiens