Eve Joseph
from “White Camellias”

The poems I don’t write get up before dawn to work in the cannery, hands slippery with slime and scaled in silver.

In the lunchroom they listen to The Pointer Sisters singing “I want a man with a slow hand” and talk about the villages they left and how, when the fish stop running, they’ll head down to Washington and pick raspberries for the Japanese man.

Their children squealing and filling the flats quick as nickels flipped through the air.

They like sockeye season best, the firm red meat of it. Laughing, calling themselves fish widows, slipping their knives down the backbone, they reminisce about their men sitting up all night at the river like shepherds with their long gaff poles.

The smokehouses full to the rafters with Indian candy.