Treasure Island

Michael Shepherd

(8.4.1929 / Marton, Lancashire)

those wild pink salmon

Now, this ‘wild pink salmon’ thing…

are they just wild about pink
like that designer with the limp wrist

or wild like you wouldn't want
to share an estuary with them

or wild that they're not so good
at jumping up the waterfalls

or wild that they’re pink
when they’d like to be red
and so, wild that the other salmon are red

is it some muted colour-snobbery
like used to be in the Windies
between chocolate and coffee

and possibly I don’t know
between Red Indians and Pink Indians
whose mother got around a bit

though on the other hand
it could be boring on the reservation
being a Hiawatha brave or squaw
10 to 5 each day for the tourists

envying the other Indians
with a real job
like standing outside a cigar store
stained with nicotine
or even inside

is it like the Monty Python sketch
the pink salmon look up to the red salmon
but look down on the tame salmon

but then, are wild and tame
really opposites anyway
even if those are the correct terms individually

is it any consolation to wild pink salmon
that we think
they’re supposed to be salmon-pink anyway
so red salmon are the ones
to be red-faced

I mean how wild is wild
and how tame are farmed salmon
if at all
they could be wilder inside
about being hemmed in
when their wild brothers and sisters
are having a wild time
in the spawning grounds off Newfoundland
(though salmon won’t know it’s called that)
and so, excuse the phrase, see red?

and – the thought’s just struck me
like a slap around the gills
with a wet fish –
they probably don’t
read the label
there’s a message there
for all of us in this
colour-conscious age

Submitted: Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Edited: Saturday, August 14, 2010

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  • Francesca Johnson (7/11/2006 3:18:00 PM)

    Great piece of work here, Michael. I like salmon whatever the colour, in fact I'm wild about them.

    Love, Fran xx (Report) Reply

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