Tag Archives: fish
The Way of Tiny Swordfish, a prose poem
Sitting in the living room next to the indoor fish pond. Watching the tiny swordfish jump up the miniature rock waterfall, knowing and empathizing with their drive to go somewhere farther along, somewhere even unknown, somewhere presently unattainable.
Sitting on the floor next to the black Naugahyde, Father-Knows-Best chair and matching ottoman, which no one actually ever sat in, as if knowing we were not worthy occupants. Wanting a father badly, asking my stepfather if I could call him Daddy. My mother made me ask him myself, but I wanted her to ask him for me!
They married when I was four, then went away to New York City – actually the Dick Van Dyke show suburb of New Rochelle – for a year, while I lived with my grandmother. My mother worked as an “executive” secretary for Norelco, and every time I saw the commercial with Santa riding the Norelco razor down the snowbank I swelled with pride.
I started kindergarten at four, Catholic school. Nursery school, kindergarten, and first grade with the Catholics. They say if they have you until age seven, they have you for life. Saint Teresa for Halloween! I came home, told Mommy I couldn’t wait to die and go to Heaven, so I could be with Jesus; pictures of Jesus taped to the headboard of my four-poster bed. Mommy said, “That’s enough Catholic school!” So public school for second grade.
Loving the families shown in black-and-white on TV, where the biggest problem was fighting over your curfew, getting a bad grade on a test, not being allowed to go to some party where, in the end, father knew best because some kids got in a car wreck either on the way there, or after.
Having a kitchen where there were no roaches living in the toaster, or the silverware drawer. Where I could ask my mother for advice, and not have it be wrong, not have it break my heart. Dreaming of and longing for a life of being saved and shepherded by your parents, like on TV. Trusting their wisdom. I wanted to trust mine.
Going To Sea
(for Barry Huplits)
She is a great white boat, carved
of wood, lacquered to a blinding
sheen, her sails immense, floating
over my head like the wings
of a fearsome angel. I sit
on her prow, clinging to the slight
metal rail, and together we leap
over the waves like some illiterate,
dangerous god. I am a mermaid,
a brightly colored figurehead,
thrust into the salt spray to bring luck.
The power of the water flings me to and fro,
but I hold fast, panting, the rich smell
of the sea making me drunk. As we pass
the ragged rock walls of the inlet,
I see the towering dwellings of men,
though these quickly fall behind our path,
growing tiny, frail to the elements
I have momentarily harnessed. We brush
great clumps of weeds, then the color beneath
changes from murky green to depthless indigo,
the froth of the peaks suddenly
light, riddled airy like the childish,
gladdened heart inside my chest.
In my net are jerking glass shrimp,
Tiny, tassled fish that look like
bits of leaf, one lone needle-nosed
eel, sinuous even in his distress,
and when I have stared long enough,
I fling them back to their wet lives
without regret. Under the sharp
edges of the sun, skin grows heated,
reddened as if by love’s rough brush,
yet we keep on, moving into the horizon,
towards the vanished place of wildness,
full of an impeccable, golden light.
(image information — http://nerafinuota.deviantart.com/art/Dog-eat-dog-world-285292431)
Dog Eat Dog
I. Dreams After Eating A Large Meal
Cannibals exist in all species,
even primates. Chimpanzees,
long thought to be peaceful vegetarians,
love to hunt. Male chimps will kill
newborns from their own troupe
if they suspect the mother
to have consorted with outsiders.
They kill the infant
with a bite to the skull,
then tear it apart, sharing the flesh
with each other. I watched a mother chimp
chasing the males who had grabbed
her baby. She followed
at a slight distance, screaming
from the trees, shaking the branches,
filled with rage but lacking the large
canine fangs of her brothers.
When she was on the verge
of attack, the males would dangle
her infant by one limb, threatening
to drop it 25 feet to the ground.
She backed off, howling
with frustration. In the end,
she gave up. The males sat
and watched, then consumed the flesh
of her offspring. It was the soft
pink of milk-fed veal, so tender,
so sweet — they napped heavily
all afternoon, dreamed vague dreams
involving slim saplings, bent
under their weight, about to snap.
II. Fighting Biology
Every human law is an effort
to curb natural instincts.
When people kill, it is for reasons
they cannot articulate. Come to me,
they hear the victim say. Take me
into yourself and make us both
whole. Much of the time, the message
is obeyed — one wrong look
can end a life. The rule of nature,
what has this to do with love?
III. Brighter Colors, More Vivid Patterns
For scorpions, 25% of their diet
consists of other, smaller scorpions.
Frogs in South America will eat anything
smaller than themselves… though sometimes
they try to swallow another frog,
larger than themselves. Rather than give
up, they both die of suffocation.
Father fish, guarding their eggs, will eat
part of the clutch rather than leave
the eggs unattended to find food.
It is too dangerous to leave the family,
it’s better to sacrifice
a few members to save the whole.
IV. Protein Is Precious
Mother mice, when their nest is found
by a predator, will kill & consume
as much of their litter as they can hold,
recycling precious protein
they’ve spent weeks gathering.
We all want to survive.
Some of us want to survive by eating others.
Some of us want to survive by consuming
air alone. I wanted to survive
without hurting anyone — I thought
it was possible, to take less, to give more.
V. Hunger, Touch, Satisfaction
I’m so hungry. All I can think of is food,
all different kinds. Bowls and bowls
of cereal, popcorn, rice, couscous.
Buckets of slop for the bovine.
Is it really spring outside? Has the mating
dance begun again? Do you love
to curl your hair? Do you long for ringlets,
shiny tresses? Do you want your hair
to touch someone? Do you want to consume
the most tender parts, leaving the rest
for scavengers? Do you understand
what sort of need you are satisfying?