A poem by Prartho.
We have to do our part, it seems –
make small, but whole-hearted gestures;
fling, for example, thin silver offerings
in arcs over the water so they glint
against the sky like dragonflies.
Young boys catch on quickest;
with the day swimming through them
by breakfast their laps are full
of bluegill and perch.
My friend Bodhi casts his line into the mirror
each morning: How come you ain’t happy?
he croons to the fish in the glass. He knows
how unexpectedly grace can leap from the water,
how entranced grace is with our rarefied air and light.
Coleridge kept his hatches unbattened
so the depth-dwellers would slither in and out –
strange primordial creatures transparent as glass,
phosphorescent skeletons flickering
in the murk. Maybe he knew
that every gesture is a prayer,
and every prayer is answered.
And every answer is a fish.
That’s why we see them circling over death-beds:
Rabindranath shouting at the Brahmin priest,
who prays that the poet be freed from the wheel
of birth and death: Stop all this nonsense!
Tell God I want His earth and His seas.
Tell Him I’m hungry for fish!
And Gertrude Stein grasping at the last
straws: What is the answer? she warbles,
but then shakes her head and laughs:
All those years of hook, line, and sinker…
and it turns out I am the fish!
First appeared in Call from Paris, The Word Works, 2014