Friday, May 01, 2015

The Fish Species of Hamilton, Ontario Find their Names in Steam

Photo of Cootes' Paradise by Doug Worrall

The Fish Species of Hamilton, Ontario find their names in Steam
after "SAUNA 89" (from Erin Moure’s Kapusta)

and if mooneye were to leave spotfin shiner for brassy
      minnow’s faults

quillback would not defend the spottail shiner’s lameness,
      walking halt

and from northern hognose sucker’s trust, stonecat would elide

mudminnow would not do rainbow smelt wrong and speak of burbot

and (banded killifish) brook silverside’d not look at mottle
      sculpin’s bluegills who say least darker do
es not merit logperch

your blackside darter was sweet and is no more

least darter will not speak of pumpkinseed

nor will brown bullhead walk again where grass pickerel once walked

brook stickleback will not let tadpole madtom’s green sunfish
       evoke trout-perch’s rosyface shiner

mimic shiner’s finescale dace will not be named by creek chub,
      lest american brook lamprey profane

alewife will not name gizzard shad

common carp will not speak (too much profane)

striped shiner gone, emerald shiner could not love northern
      redbelly dace more than freshwater drum

and if logperch love johnny darter not at all, walleye love white
      crapple even less

but oh iowa darter’s blackside darter

channel catfish will not touch white bass’s sand shiner

bowfin will not (shh: trout) brown trout lake trout

In this poem, I took Erin Moure's "Sauna 89" from her new book, Kapusta and replaced each noun (and pronoun) with the name of a fish species found in Hamilton, Ontario. The list is courtesy of the Hamilton Naturalists' Club and their Natural Areas Inventory.

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