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If a Fish

If a fish were to wiggle
out of the sea,
walk to my door,
stand on its hind fins,
ring the bell,
walk right on in,
drip sea water and
drop shimmering fish scales
onto my carpet, then


tell me,
in my mother tongue,
what it had practiced for years
in the sea's cold, deep heart
to say,


I would listen
to its every word,


if that fish came
all this way
and only gaped, wordless,
on my living room rug
the way fish gape
when they’re fishes out of water,


I might be tempted
to hit it on the head
with a hammer,
or call the newspaper,
or return him quickly
to the sea.


And if that fish
still has some message
amid the coral and scattered bones
at the bottom of the sea
and cannot imagine how,
but still wiggles
and shimmers and flits,
not this place,
not this place,


then it is like a man
wanting his first wife
to hear something:
that he was a good father,
that he tried,
that he would like her
respect, if not her love,


and his whole life is like that—
never at the when and where
he's supposed to be at,
wiggling and twisting
some message.


A fish,
no tongue,
no feet,
no air,
only some stammering
across the table


at the bottom
of the sea.

George Burns

Published by: Cathexis Northwest Press



Autumnal Road | Forgiveness | I had wandered for years | Love letter then, | Moon-Called

One Good Day (Ray Carver) | Partly Heliotropic | Reminder | The Flags of My Allegiance

The Spanish Thought Money Was Gold | How Is It | Does The Road | If A Fish | It Is

French Press | Reflections



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