By Evelina Zarkh
Bear Sightings: Four “Western” Haikus
Look, a bear!
and keeps driving.
Across the river
a lone cub wanders in reeds,
grazing the shoreline.
We leave the cabin
after dinner, just to see
brown ears in tall weeds.
Thirty feet away,
the bushes shake. In twilight,
the sound of ripping grass.
By Zoe Roben
Cruising north from Juneau,
the Haines ferry
parts the salty waters
into east and west.
canoes have glided
over this same sea,
millions of beads of water
dripping of the arcs
of millions of paddles,
Our wake must be
a quarter-mile long,
cutting through schools of fish.
A foamy footprint
millions of droplets.
Winding past devil’s club,
forgotten coil of hose,
rotting remnants of a walkway,
out onto the weathered boards
of a dock,
once launching point
for boaters, kayakers, swimmers,
now landscaped by moss, grass,
its fibers transporting lake water
to their delicate roots.
The lake’s ripples
by the branches of
a fallen spruce –
gnarled, moss leaden branches
toward the open water.
Once airborn tufts of seeds
slowly drift on the surface
toward hollow grasses
in the shallows.
Gazing at far peaks,
I take out my watercolors,
fill a discarded broken mug
with lake water,
the blue grey water
on my page.
By Nora Marks Dauenhauer
How to Make Good Baked Salmon from the River
– for Simon Ortiz, and for all our friends and relatives who love it
It’s best made in dry-fish camp on a beach by a fish stream on sticks over an open fire, or during fishing or during cannery season.
In this case, we’ll make it in the city, baked in an electric oven on a black fry pan.
INGREDIENTS Bar-b-q sticks of alder wood. In this case the oven will do. Salmon: River salmon, current super market cost $4.99 a pound. In this case, salmon poached from river. Seal oil or hooligan oil. In this case, butter or Wesson oil, if available.
DIRECTIONS To butcher, split head up the jaw. Cut through. Remove gills. Split from throat down the belly.
Gut, but make sure you toss all to the seagulls and the ravens, because they’re your kin, and make sure you speak to them while you’re feeding them. Then split down along the back bone and through the skin. Enjoy how nice it looks when it’s split.
Push stake through flesh and skin like pushing a needle through cloth, so that it hangs on stakes while cooking over fire made from alder wood.
Then sit around and watch the slime on the salmon begin to dry out. Notice how red the flesh is, and how silvery the skin looks. Watch and listen how the grease crackles, and smell its delicious aroma drifting around on a breeze.
Mash some fresh berries to go along for dessert. Pour seal oil in with a little water. Set aside.
In this case, put the poached salmon in a fry pan. Smell how good it smells while it’s cooking, because it’s soooooooooooo important.
Cut up an onion. Put in a small dish. Notice how nice this smells too, and how good it will taste. Cook a pot of rice to go along with salmon. Find some soy sauce to put on rice, or maybe borrow some.
In this case, think about how nice the berries would have been after the salmon, but open a can of fruit cocktail instead.
Then go out by the cool stream and get some skunk cabbage, because it’s biodegradable, to serve the salmon from. Before you take back the skunk cabbage, you can make a cup out of one to drink from the cool stream.
In this case, plastic forks, paper plates and cups will do, and drink cool water from the faucet.
TO SERVE. After smelling smoke and fish and watching the cooking, smelling the skunk cabbage and the berries mixed with seal oil, when the salmon is done, put salmon on stakes on the skunk cabbage and pour some seal oil over it and watch the oil run into the nice cooked flakey flesh which has now turned pink.
Shoo mosquitoes off the salmon, and shoo the ravens away, but don’t insult them, because mosquitoes
are known to be the ashes of the cannibal giant, and Raven is known to take off with just about anything.
In this case, dish out on paper plates from fry pan. Serve to all relatives and friends you have invited to the bar-b-q and those who love it.
And think how good it is that we have good spirits that still bring salmon and oil.
Everyone knows that you can eat
just about every part of the salmon,
so I don’t have to tell you
that you start from the head,
because it’s everyone’s favorite.
You take it apart,
bone by bone,
but be sure you don’t miss
and the very best part
You start on the mandible with a glottalized alveolar fricative action as expressed in the Tlingit verb als’oos’.
Chew on the tasty, crispy skins
before you start on the bones.
Then you start on the body
by sucking on the fins
with the same action.
Include the crispy skins,
and then the meat with grease oozing all over it.
Have some cool water from the stream
with the salmon.
In this case,
water from the faucet will do.
Enjoy how the water tastes sweeter with salmon.
When done, toss the bones to the ravens
and seagulls, and mosquitoes,
but don’t throw them in the salmon stream
because the salmon have spirits
and don’t like to see the remains
of their kin thrown in by us
among them in the stream.
In this case, put bones in plastic bag
to put in dumpster.
Now settle back to a story telling session
while someone feeds the fire.
In this case,
small talk and jokes with friends will do
while you drink beer.
If you shouldn’t drink beer,
tea or coffee will do nicely.
Gunalcheesh for coming to my bar-b-q.
(During our weekend trip to Haines, the class enjoyed an evening with Nora and Dick at a camp on the Chilkoot River. We enjoyed Nora’s salmon soup by candleight, along with a sampling of poetry from both Nora and Dick.)