cycle of salmon

i wonder if salmon are aware 
of their orange pink flesh inside them.
i looked at the cuts at whole foods yesterday
& they sat beside a little pile of grey shrimp.
a woman was ordering crab legs by the pounds
& i thought of all the legs skittering
across the smooth grocery store floor.
somewhere in the world there are salmon
fluttering around. swimming upstream.
laying eggs in their home waters.
completing a cycle. we are all completing 
a cycle. right now, i am participating in spring
& resisting the urge to pick daffodils.
summer is a future yellow.
i have eaten salmon maybe twice & never 
on purpose. i’m a vegetarian now 
which means i have lost touch with 
the textures of sinew. i have not
picked a bone out of my mouth in years.
i always thought vegetarianism would 
make me more mystical– that i might
close my eyes & feel the salmon rushing.
i only feel my own blood & smell grocery carts
as they wince at the scene. no one has any right
going to a whole foods to find food.
i cradle three green bananas. i am 
a salmon here. i picture the folds 
of my meat. the white lines in the flesh.
sometimes i think meat looks like
fabric. a pattern. a seamstress sewing
the insides of salmon. i have thought
fish were dumb for awhile now. it’s something about
their eyes. when i had goldfish 
i worshipped their gaze & the open-close
of their mouths. i have become less wise
& less trustworthy either that or 
i have never been. completing a cycle.
this summer i will hopefully become someone
who doesn’t go to grocery stores for comfort.
my father does this too. someone might say 
why did you wait so long to mention
this poem is about your father?
because a father lurks just beneath 
the surface of a river full of salmon.

Image Credit: Salmon, from the series Fishers and Fish (N74) for Duke brand cigarettes / The Met.

About the author

Robin Gow is a trans poet and young adult author. They are the author of OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL DEGENERACY (Tolsun Books 2020) and the chapbook HONEYSUCKLE (Finishing Line Press 2019). Their first young adult novel, A MILLION QUIET REVOLUTIONS, is slated for publication winter 2022 with FSG. Gow's poetry has recently been published in POETRY, New Delta Review, and Washington Square Review. Gow received their MFA from Adelphi University where they were also an adjunct instructor. Gow is a managing editor at The Nasiona.

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