Gustavus Flats

Travis Stephens


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Tide has gone out
leaving the Salmon River but a muddy trough.
Where river mud meets beach sand at
Icy Strait the ground is white with gulls.
Five thousand glaucous-winged & ten thousand
herring gulls. Seventy soot-coated crows.
I can hear them from this far away.

Whatever it is they are feeding on—sand Lance,
shrimp, tiny crab, stranded mussels or barnacles–
it is another Alaska gold rush.

I am in an aluminium skiff that, like me,
was built in Minnesota.
I am jigging for halibut.
They come in three sizes—chickens, slabs
and barn doors. A chicken will do.
No one pays me any mind.

Now a boat at the dock cranks up the sound system.
Country-western CDs for some redneck
gone sailor. Tennessee music joined by a thousand
gulls suddenly aloft, screaming in protest or singing along.

Travis Stephens

is a

Guest Contributor for Panorama.


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