Dying Human

I had had this fish
nine years and he was big
as half the tank was wide
and he wasn’t much smaller
the day I got him
so I figured he must be
at least eighteen years old
most likely more

he died human
not like the smaller ones
who have come and gone
within the course of his memory
jack knifing or rolling around
the tank for weeks, even months
before being taken out
to end up in the infirmary bucket

he died with human suddenness
convulsing three times
then rolling on his side
onto a rock
we knew straight away
he was gone

for days after
all the smaller fish
filled the huge space
he had occupied above that rock
as if stretched to comprehend
what memory could not suffice
he was legend
their alpha and omega
in their revolving recollections

he died human
nothing understood
nothing and no-one

we buried him in the yard
soil instead of cistern
a closure of sorts
his scales glowed
in his final moments of sunlight
his eye fixed on mine
as I pushed in the dirt
knowing, knowing

Mark Willing

Comments are closed.