Climbing Fish

Shu-Hsien Ho

Shu-Hsien Ho

Second Place Winner, Age 18+ Category. San José Public Library | Spring into Poetry Contest 2023

O'opu 'alamo'o:
tiny gobies
swim out from
the Big Island
to teeming ocean waters

survive!
and return
to spawning grounds
up, up, up
slippery rocks—
no ropes, no gear—
up
442 feet
of Akaka Falls

how clear
a mission!

they cling
with suction power—
fused pelvic fins—

a feat
that rivals steelhead
migrating
thousands of miles
thrashing upstream
over rocks
up metal ladders
past hungry bears
and human anglers

a feat
that rivals
rope-free climbers
clinging up El Capitan,
inching up
by foot and fingers

these gobies
climb and climb,
no practice runs
nothing but
their will and instinct

pulled home
to give birth
to yet another
generation

Second Place Winner, Age 18+ Category. San José Public Library | Spring into Poetry Contest 2023

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