In this shallow creek they flop and writhe forward as the dead float back toward them. Oh, I know what I should say: fierce burning in the body as her eggs burst free, milky cloud of sperm as he quickens them. I should stand on the bridge with my camera, frame the white froth of rapids where one arcs up for an instant in its final grace. But I have to go down among the rocks the glacier left and squat at the edge of the water where a stinking pile of them lies, where one crow balances and sinks its beak into a gelid eye. I have to study the small holes gouged into their skin, their useless gills, their gowns of black flies. I can't make them sing. I want to, but all they do is open their mouths a little wider so the water pours in until I feel like I'm drowning. On the bridge the tour bus waits and someone waves, and calls down It's time, and the current keeps lifting dirt from the bottom to cover the eggs.
From Tell Me by Kim Addonizio. Copyright © 2000 by Kim Addonizio. Reprinted by permission of BOA Editions, Ltd. All rights reserved.