I watched in the swirl, the blue fish paddle
steadily away from the boat,
knowing that it had been hooked before,
the wound protruding wormlike from his jaw.
Today would not be his last fight.
He would not be a photo prize.
He wanted not the weight of air,
just the restless, endless flow all around,
the homely tide.
Algae speckled his skin
refracting rainbow fingers
like prayers in the morning
and brown moldy spots on his lateral line
like vespers recited in a dark nave.
Swirls of lilies flowed beneath his belly
revealing his antiquity and mortality.
He danced defiantly along the reef,
shedding embedded sand,
corrupted water weighing him down
the worms wriggling on barbed Js above,
the anemones gesticulating alluringly beneath.
He once was suspended between ocean/heaven
everything green slipping off,
his blue mocked by the lighter sky,
his lungs rejecting its oxygen,
his blood rejecting its gravity
that cut his very being.
He was born with scales,
flexible bones Ill-suited for this rigid world,
born to glisten never knowing.
more beautiful peony’s,
things more lovely than him
rooted in lands beyond his sight and ken.
His eyes seemed larger than mine
and in a certain graceful way
they had the heavy density of a stain glass panel
trying to contain all beauty in an icon.
They shifted only towards the light.
He stared mouth agape and every scar,
every hook wound fell off, revealed itself,
proof that he will never be any one’s prize.
Like everyone else, he had learned
the wisdom of the wound,
that life was not in victory,
but in surviving, the possibility,
the hope of catch and release.
I started my rusty boat
and in the dart of his rainbow
swimming away, swimming away,
I felt the thanks of his fin and tail,
as I moored in the direction home.