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Hatchery

By Kim Roberts

Hundreds of tiny fry
crowd the single tank,
churning the water milky.
The fry grow to parr
with wobbly, thick black stripes

as if drawn in a child’s hand.
The parr grow to smolts,
released into ponds.
As they smoltify,
they turn silver, grow scales.

Their ponds go saline
and they grow, they fatten.
They bulk up, fish up,
they chinook, they chum,
they coho, they sockeye.

They don’t run, or redd,
or spawn, or kelt.
No ocean, no river,
no homing. No anadromy.
They don’t properly pink

so far from habitat.
So they’re fed a food
made from themselves;
they are cannibalized
for color: soylent salmon.

And they are fed twice
as many pounds as they grow—
a crazy economy.
Still they are created
in the thousands, packed

into writhing tanks like shooting fish
in a barrel
. Three years
from artificial insemination
to the flap of a caudal fin,
to the bagel on my plate.

Added: Thursday, July 13, 2017  /  From "The Scientific Method," (WordTech Editions, 2017). Used with permission.
Kim Roberts
Photo by Rick Karlin.

Kim Roberts is the author of five books of poems, most recently The Scientific Method (WordTech Editions, 2017). The title poem of that book was featured on a seven-foot-high banner at the National March for Science in the Wick Poetry Center’s “Science Stanzas” project, and is now traveling the US as part of their Traveling Stanzas exhibition. Roberts is the co-editor of two literary journals, Beltway Poetry Quarterly and the Delaware Poetry Review. In August, she will be a writer-in-residence at the Luna Parc Foundation, her 17th art colony fellowship. In Spring of 2018, the University of Virginia Press will release her nonfiction book, A Literary Guide to Washington, DC from Francis Scott Key to Zora Neale Hurston.

Other poems by this author