Cooked Copper River Salmon on a plate with cooked vegetables.
Ode to Copper River Salmon with a plate of salmon filets.
Copper River in Alaska surrounded by glaciers.

Copper River salmon
brave and swimming out
early spring, gleaming silver and flecked, on a quest, flashing in blue waters, swimming out of the ocean on a quest

headlong and upstream between glaciers, around waterfalls for a 300-mile journey to spawn in the Copper River after riding the crests and troughs of waves, watching spindrift of glitter and sparkles that melt into the sun.

Glorious sunset
of your flesh in crimson
and roses, rich with
omega-3 fatty acids,
muscular, plump, buttery
and unguent with oils.

Copper River salmon meant for a feast of sushi, or glazed with honey
brown sugar
, pan seared, or herbed with chervil and citrus, cedar planked, or served as blueberry gravlax.

King of salmons, nay — 
let us call you emperor of salmons and crown you if we could.
For thousands of years, and still now, indigenous people seek you out.
Once explorers put up sails to go into unknown waters and reach Pacific shores, and you became a fish of lore.

Copper River salmon, largest and most nutritious of all
you swim wild and free
and try to find the happiness in things knowing you’ll serve your purpose
and die after you spawn.

Or perhaps one day you’ll know the net and catch of the fisherman.
You’ll be hoisted in the air,
all your memories will meet the moment when you’ll be held and loved like something prized.

Fisherman throwing a buoy off the side of a boat.
Copper River Salmon on a boat deck.
Ode to Copper River Salmon with two filets in a pan.

Helen Mitsios is an award-winning poet and writer. She is Art & Style editor for WONDERLUST magazine where she also pens the column "Out of Print Books We Love."

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