Female salmon and steelhead (sea-run trout) returning upstream from the ocean to spawn construct several nests in which they deposit their eggs. Each nest is called a redd. A redd can also refer to nests constructed by the same female in a contiguous area. Maya Khosla, in Web of Water, writes: “The female salmon chooses an area of clean gravel and cobble, usually found at the tails of pools where water picks up speed and turns into a riffle. . . . Fanning the nest with her whole body, she slaps at the creek bottom to clean the gravel of silt and sediment,” which are carried away by the current. In “Song for the Bones of the Salmon,” poet David Wagoner addresses the salmon, asking that his song “be the scales lost/On the hard stones/Where you strained at nesting.” Khosla again: “The female lays about 3,500 eggs, almost all of which are fertilized by an attendant male.” Ah, yes, the attendant male and salmon sex beneath clear, moving waters.

Pattiann Rogers