Bright flashes of silver-scaled light—after I fell at the bottom of my seawall stairs. This is how it is to die, I thought, believing in the oldest ceremony behind the eyes. But I don’t go to the emergency room—there are more virus cases. Lately, my pain travels its own bathymetry—on seabed, across seafloor—my water body finding well-traveled pathways, where losses wade into a blood barrier older than the tide. These are new emotions I’m experiencing, though, as I shelter here beside the sea, as I count the dead across thousands of cycloid, smooth-rimmed scales, recording everything in radial striations and scalloping.

These days, I often turn toward any sound-threat, a car rolling tires across my graveled driveway, a child hollering on a bike, a morning jogger. Leaning against my fish cleaning table, now, I name these feelings: “broken circuli” and “lifecycle grief.” With the swivel of wrist, a finger on the plastic handle and steel blade, I bend the scar on my forefinger and rip gills. This king salmon, the one we caught trolling through dawn-light shadows, despite days of torrential rain, despite awaiting the fisheries area shutdown, despite the scale-shape of hunger, and all the dying and dying. We have this. This salmon. We have this.