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In the deepest part of the river

there lived a great sturgeon

and she swam along the bottom

and fed upon the dead who had fallen.

She was about three hundred years old

and when she was full, she came to

the surface and jumped as high as

she could and all the males came

to her and she kissed each male

and let them have her. Months later

she quietly went to her favourite part

of the river and there she released

her eggs in the millions and then began

again to swim the bottom and to search

for any new bodies that had fallen

from upriver, which she feasted upon

with her old softly kissed lips.

The legend goes that a fisherman

had fallen into the waters and was drowning

when the great sturgeon came to him

and asked him for a kiss. He agreed

and the two fell in love and together

they would feed upon all the food

at the bottom of the river. One day

her eggs came to life and created

the people across the water.

The people lived there for centuries

and the sturgeon and man would visit

from time to time, bringing them food

to survive the cold wet winters

until the people too walked into

the water and fell to the bottom

as the man kissed his lover.

Today we do not fish for sturgeon

as their numbers have been decimated

by overfishing and loss of spawning

grounds. Whenever I catch a sturgeon

in my net I let her go and she always

turns back and smiles as she flicks

her mighty tail and splashes me.

My son always laughs as I stand there

stunned and wet, while the great sturgeon

slowly swims away and turns back

to blow us a kiss. We both wipe

our lips as the great sturgeon

falls to the bottom of the water.

There, waiting for her, is her lover.

He kisses her one last time.

She cries as she begins to eat him.

The Sturgeon's Lover

Joseph Dandurand


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translated from the Ukrainian written by
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