The call caught them
all across the Aleutians.

In the middle of scooping krill
they heard the sound of a wordless shiver
tickling skein and milt.

They eased to South.

They ate hard across the huge current
slashing herring ritualistically
in a dance of secret steps.

As each found far out
a tiny scent of home
the chemistry began in earnest
subtle at first
tasting of sweet death.

Then it was urgent, urgent
eating their flesh with the need to leap
to find the source, to change
into the mystery.

Spending what they had been
they came to the place
ready to slough their shredded husks
to feed the nursery.

shuddering off dying confinements
they came free together
thin smoke on the embers
round and newly sparked.

in the spaces between the stones
they dream of the next return.


01 February 1976, revised 14 July 1976

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