Some Kind of Hallelujah
by Tom Reed
“I got a fish.”
“Shit. I didn’t get any.”
“Lets build a fire and cook it.”
They gathered driftwood and built a fire, and when there were coals, he laid the salmon there and covered it with seaweed.
The salmon came every summer. They came to spawn in the rivers and streams. They came to die in the forest. They came to be eaten, and when they were eaten, those who ate, shit, and their shit nourished the land, and the forest grew from that nourishment.
The flesh of salmon came every year, like a wave of nutrients from the sea, penetrating the land by the arteries of fresh water that drained it of snowmelt. Everyone depended on it. It was the way it was. The bears, the eagles, the seals, and the humans all relied on the annual flood of flesh.
And when it came, it was not yours or mine, but for all, a bounty of providence from the sea for all life on the land. And didn’t the snow come from the sea too? The snow that the salmon used to make their way inland?
The seaweed held in the moisture, steaming the fish from above while it roasted from below. They ate, together, and gazed across the bay, watching the tide rip by. The tide that flooded and drained the bay twice a day, taking nutrients from the land to the sea to feed the fish and the crabs and the mussels.
As they ate, it was clear that all is as it should be, that they fit into this dynamic–were a part of this exchange between land and sea.
And the joy they experienced from the taste of the moist fish–a flavor better than any other fish–and from the heat of the fish in their belly after a long day in a penetrating wind, and from the sharing of the bounty–that joy seemed to be part of the dynamic too.
It all seemed to be screaming some kind of Hallelujah, as if this was all one big divine party.
The gravel of the beach was surrounded by spruce reaching for the sky, fed by the shit of bear, fed by the salmon that were fed by the small fish that fed on others that lived off the nutrients of the land that flowed down with the snowmelt that came from the sea. Sitting there with their butts on the gravel, they looked into each others eyes and giggled at the beauty of it all.