After a historic photograph by Ellis Morigeau

When a wild chinook thrashes the air
above Kettle Falls,
the coiled spring of its body
ripples with the surge of 700 river miles
                           toward home.

The river pours its thunder
between striate seabottom rocks:
a glassy tongue imploding into whiteness.

To the salmon it is a beckoning arm.

There is no human gesture so fervent
—this long journey inland—
no effort so seamlessly one with its element.

The river’s story, descending
through epochs of ice and stone,
coalesces in the salmon’s momentary flight.

The salmon’s heart
is the river’s heart made flesh.
The salmon’s flight, a pulse.

Ours is the wisdom to see them both
as one; power to power joined:

one falling,
one borne by a wisdom all its own

           in ascendance.

From Ascendance: Poems by Tim McNulty, © 2013, Pleasure Boat Studio, New York