Monday, February 05, 2007

How to smoke salmon

Brine them all day long, kings
pulled from the ocean in purse seines.

Replace some of the sea with garlic
and with ginger.
Pull filets from the icy tub.

Admire the crosscut bone,
charcoal flecks on silver skin,
patterns in the flesh like wooden grain.

Soon your fingers will feel frozen.
Notice your own bones within them.

Set the smoker steady on concrete,
hickory chips
underneath the element.

Arrange the racks with room for air,
for smoke to seep
into the fish. Trade stories
of new friends and lost loves.
Let smoke seep into your hair.

Have a seat.
Crack a beer, trade stories
of roadtrips, babies born
and interest rates.

Go for a walk. Let the rain
comb your eyelashes.

After a while, add wood and a sad story—
a wise man’s murder, perhaps.
Scatter ashes and embers—
fireflies in wet grass.

Take your rest.
Dream of Kodiak. Algae. Little fish.

And when you wake:
smoked salmon for breakfast.

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