Peer over the bridge railing into the shallow creek. Glare turns to glass only to reveal the trailing sway of weeds. Storm-damaged, a willow sheds yellow leaves, drags its bare fingers through the current. But it’s the sound to wait for, that subtle change in the water’s voice. Rush of a passing car fading back to creek sound and doubt. Is it too early in the season? Too late? Maybe none made it back this year? Another car, faster than the first. Chickadees in the willow – no, kinglets – and then, from under the bridge, splashes that don’t match the creek’s usual chatter. Cheer it on, ignoring all else until it finally emerges: twenty inches of scarred salmon thrashing those last few feet through sun and shadow to return to that scoop in the shade where it all began, where it all will end, and all begin again.
if it’s by choice