They speed upstream to spawn after dark
slick as ice and pearly white:
whitefish from Lake Michigan’s depths
With sure instincts
with DNA of generations
with chartreuse eggs; with white milt
their sleek white shapes streak
through dark river waters
now starting to freeze.
It’s been this way in the Great Lakes
since Edenic times
when Ice Age glaciers melted away.
And now in this coldest December
anyone alive can remember
fishermen risk a walk the piers
wear cleats on their boots
tie themselves to something solid.
They jig rigged lines on the river bottom
and sometimes land a sleek, slick, delicious fish
while west winds howl.
From my book Sophia's Lost and Found: Poems of Above and Below