The Pebble Mine

“We have to win every time. They only have to win once. ”                                                                                 

   — Jon Broderick, founder of the FisherPoets Gathering

Choices 
We make our choices:
The Grand Coulee
built for irrigation
of drought-burdened
farmland,
killed the salmon
running the Columbia.
June Hogs,
100 pound plus
Chinook salmon
swam for centuries
fed the first peoples
created culture and religion
gone, spawning grounds locked
forever behind concrete.

Dams killed sockeye, coho,
humpback and Chinook
throughout Washington.
Salmon fishing now
a ghost of what it was.
Phantom fish don’t need
to spawn. Each dam
was a choice.

Migration
To wander seas
tour a blue planet
until chemicals mix
produce hormones,
influence instinct
(a clock ticks)
and tides send you home.

Belly fattens and swells
as you ride currents
back the way you came
years ago, over canyons
mountains, around islands,
through valleys.

Millions
swim with you,
ahead, beside,
beneath, above,
behind.

Until, what is it, a scent?
reaches out from the river you knew,
grasps you by the part
that remembers,
and pulls,
quickens the pace,
tightens the urge,
and you all
arrive together,
frenzied, leap
up a stream
to lay, fertilize
and die.

Only the river is gone.
Instead toxic waste
slides from a hole
where your
birthplace
used to be.

You didn’t know
your corpse
is the last,
your species
added to the litany
of all those gone,
gone before.

We knew,
each decision
was a choice.

Mine, not Yours
This is about greed.

A copper mine
at the headwaters
of the last epic salmon run
in the world? A copper mine
with an earthen dam
holding a poison lake
in a geologically active
environment.
What could go wrong?
Ask the fish.

Ask Fraser River salmon
caught in the toxic slurry
that rolled down the watershed
when a copper mine tailing dam
failed and flooded salmon grounds.

Each mine is a choice.

About the author

Patrick Dixon

Patrick Dixon is a poet, writer and photographer based in Olympia, Wash. A retired educator who also spent 20 years gillnetting salmon in Cook Inlet, Alaska, Dixon is among the organizers of the annual FisherPoets gathering in Astoria, Ore., and the FisherPoets of Pacific Marine Expo. He is the poetry editor for National Fisherman and her companion quarterly North Pacific Focus.

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