We Slit the Last

We slit the last
belly by dark,
guts an orange heap
on the wet gravel
next to the river
in rain haze mist;
scrubbed the slime
and the blood from
stiff hands in icy
currents, fast river
rumble filling our
ears. Wiped our fingers
on parka fronts,
trudged hollow clumping
in hip boots, back
to the yellow warm tents.
Lighted lamps inside
the canvas, shadows
moving on limp walls.
Boiled up a char, ate
with bannock and tea,
eyes getting heavy
from the purring stove
people warmth
soft talk
old stories new
tales of travel
talk of tomorrow, how
full the trap will be
char lunging at the rocks
thrashing about the pool
foaming the water
when we wade in
kakivak in hand
just as the sun
slips round the ridge.

:: Jim Green, in Going for Coffee: An Anthology of Contemporary North American Working Poems (1981)

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