Sierra Golden

        Petersburg, AK

Mexicans wearing waders greet us
by the ice chute in the afternoon,

splash into the quarter-filled hold,
shimmering water still thigh-high

and thirty-four degrees as they pump it dry.
Frayed tie-ups loop and creak

around tar-blacked pilings, sway-backed
dock high above the grey mast at low tide.

Wet snow clumps down from the sky.
Someone hums “You Are My Sunshine,”

clouds sinking over the cannery,
lights flicking on before sunset,

fighting the damp and dark
with one bright flood.

They off-load sixty tons of herring.
The heaving lungs of Jorge and Fat Luis

hang steam puffs, big as buoys
in the ripe roe smell of the hold.

They shuffle and shovel the fragile
gape-mouthed fish toward the pump.

The cork-yellow moon cracks the cloud cover,
shrouds us each in the same half-shadow.

Milky scales stick like stars
to their neoprene green pants,

and I wish that I never have to leave here,
weave a home in a real God forsaken place. 

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