Its freedom already won by age, propeller,
or some unseen thing—a cool, white tumour,
small as a grain of rice wedged into meat
or organ. A bloated feathering of scales—
sun-side, bone-dry, and silvering—the carp
looks ready for first and last flight. Tucked
away from bigger water, this fish is an island
of decay bull’s-eyed into a huddle of dike stones.
Bobbing in the wake of yachts cutting across
the bay, it gives the illusion of life. A codex
of pipe taps, footprints after an avalanche,
the false hope wreckage gives. As if something
could still be alive in there. As if, returned to us,
it would still be the same. We task ourselves
with releasing it, but the switch has too much
give, too green for what the job takes. Will not
lift this mass and its clouded eye skyward.
What works: time and a second branch run up
from shore. One stab through the rot, the thing
speared and hauled into open water. That if
we stand together, squint, tilt our heads just right,
we can see how good we are, how we always knew
what was best, what, in the end, could be saved.
From YAW (Mansfield Press, 2014) by Dani Couture