Last year I did a half Marathon for the first time during The Poetry Marathon. I was seven or eight months pragnent at the time, so the full marathon was not logistically possible.
I found myself luxuriating in the opportunity to only write 12 poems in 12 hours, instead of 24 in 24. I wanted to make sure that during each hour I wrote the best poem possible
Then for the very last hour of the half marathon I wrote a poem that is one of my personal favorite poems. This poem is named Salmon. Of course I still had to edit it a great deal and the version of Salmon I started out with after the marathon was very different than the one I submitted for publication. Salmon went on to be published in the 2016 spring issue of Tar River Poetry.
I want for you to know the joy of eating
raw fish filled with fat, glorious waves
of it and a kind of salt that comes only
from the sea and cannot be distilled into crystals.
Perhaps you will be a vegan, or simply fish
averse, the smell of it in our kitchen
will cause you to exclaim Oh Mother
brown eyes rolling. Of course,
I am imagining your protest, your eyes,
their color still unknown to me. During the first
tentative months of your existence within me, raw
fish was one of the few things you allowed
me to keep in the pit of stomach, besides yourself.
So I ate it with an eye on mercury levels,
and those doctors who can never agree.
I consumed it with desire. But even if you don’t
like the taste of it, I want for you to know the joy
that comes from eating something so fresh
you can still taste the life in it. Snap peas grabbed
off the vine, apples plucked, raspberries removed from
their messy bush along the back fence. Someday perhaps
you will know what it is like to consume something
for someone else, to take it into your own body,
then give it away to theirs, with fear, with hope.
I wrote this poem for my daughter June (although she was un-named at the time). The strange thing is that when I wrote it, I imagined her many years later trying salmon for the first time and plucking raspberries off the back fence.
What I wrote has now come true, less than a year later. It turns out I didn’t know very much about babies and eating.
June has now plucked raspberries from the bushes along the back fence (I did have to hold her there during the experience). Although she largely eats raspberries I have picked. This is mostly because she does not pick nearly as fast as she wants to consume.
She has also consumed salmon, raw and cooked. While she despises the cooked version (which I couldn’t handle while pregnant) she loves the very small sampling of raw salmon we have offered her.
It feels wonderful to have written something that has come true, more or less. As you can see in the photograph below, she has very blue eyes. Also, she cannot roll them yet. Hopefully the “oh mother” years are a long way off.