The Vagaries of Fishes

by Judith Skillman

After they passed beneath us I could tell
more would be coming, beneath the sand,
under the bejeweled sky, under the first
layer of earth where water exists
in flutes and eddies. I lay there with you,
not wanting to leave your side even
for them, the miraculous creatures of sex
and sediment, the ones who obey currents
and ladders, blindly seeking out their own
individual deaths, their pink flesh peeling
against the rocks. I saw the spool of eggs,
endless possibilities that would not be.
How they labored to breathe the air that night,
caught under our queen-sized bed, the male
and the female, Silvers and Kings whose pale
eyes saw into the lidless dark. I could tell
they loved each other without speech, circling
there apart from water, and I remembered
a snippet from a French film in which a woman
masturbates with a fish, and thought how progressive
I had become in retrospect. There we were,
left behind by the tides, deserted by
the institution of wind on a night
so soundless it could have been our first
night together, before we became victims
of those slippery, dirty, messy words.

Last updated May 02, 2015