Issue 145, Winter 1997
The fish circle the seas a thousand times
a day, never diverging from the endless
path of blue opening up before them.
Like the worm of eternity swallowing
its tail, they swim in a perpetual circle,
unaware that it is only a circle
of generic liquid, lovingly cooled and lit
to resemble the distant oceans of their birth.
Here in the Academy of Science, each one
hurtles ahead of all the other ones
fleeing the spasms of traffic that occur
when an unseen intelligence shifts the current.
If they could pause—impossible in this current
fish race—and look beyond the pulsing
screen of fellow fish, they would see us:
bluish humans wandering in the dark,
bashfully colliding, slow to see.
Leaving the ring of fish, a wraparound
video of living waves, we swim
through western territory in our finned
and silvery car. We part the salty air
like the stern old bass plowing its way
through a mesh of flickering sardines,
or like the musical sea lion gliding
joyously in reverse, flippers folded