I am afraid of fish.
I am afraid to look at them,
to watch them struggling upstream
in the spring where the ladder begins.
Within yards of its commencement
the first dead ones begin to float down,
their eyes as blank as buttons,
their bodies floating on the surface
of the stream like leaves.
Everywhere I look there are miraculously more–
some fish already half-way to the top,
others just daring to begin.
With surging strength they fight the current
of the maze, hug its concrete, wriggle upwards
with a motion that appears stationary in the ripples
until, suddenly, they round the next bend
and slip into an eddy.
I should have come hungry to witness this,
arrived sweaty and sleepless
as I imagine them to be.
Ospreys hover overhead.
Crowds tremble on the banks,
wondering why no one thought to bring a net
–to help, or to feast?
In the pond above the ladder,
the survivors are swimming in slow circles,
catching their breath.