July 07

like a fish

Julie Meslin

this week, may you be like a fish in the flood.
that is, may you always keep your eyes open,
even during sleep
and also upon entering the sound,
slow exhalation of death.
because you are unafraid – of drowning,
of the ocean's seeming endlessness, of the end
of all things because, as a fish,
you have lived it once already.

try to recall the strange and beautiful movie
of the day they all came down; eyes and mouths
wide open with every last thought of the dry world.
cats and gloves, bowls, copper coins, little boys
and girls, front doors and drums and tables and chairs,
someone's mother drifting through the blue,
her skirt billowing like a useless parachute.

and if they had sinned, all the evidence was gone.
ugly words were blunted, weapons
had no weight, cities hung like mobiles
above the bed of the ocean floor.

some say the fish survived
because they are continually bathed
in purifying waters, protected
from the corrupting gaze of land-dwellers,
were created before all other animals
and in their name contain the number seven.

but fish have no magic, the ocean has no memory.
G-d thought "water" and the fish
thought they were the sea.


Background Image: The Fish (often called Fishes) by Mikhail Larionov


Julie Meslin lives in Brooklyn. She first studied poetry at Lehigh University with Joe Lucia, who told her about Patti Smith's album Horses, for which (among other things) she thanks him.