Little Yellow Fish

Little yellow fish,

you swim somewhere

in the turquoise Caribbean

that laps the reefs of St. John.

You slice ripply shafts of sun,

mouthing algae from the chalky ridges

of a brain coral.

Or maybe by now

you are in the belly of a red snapper.

But once

you were in my hands,

two cups of flesh

pooling your small finned body.

What am I

to make of the way

you stayed still,

let me stroke you?

You let yourself be

in the shadow

of my bobbing body,

beneath my chest, within hands

held loosely

in the posture of prayer.

I gave you room to slip away,

my finger bones spread and rounded,

a leaky bathysphere.

You stayed. Each time

I stretched my arms out front like an arrow

and stroked, pushing water

to propel my body to shore,

I lowered my chin,

expecting to find you

gone, startled, washed away.

You stayed,

a constant yellow flame

flickering at my heart.

I want to think

it was kinship kept you with me

from the reef a hundred feet out

all the way to the glittering white beach -

that held you to my leviathan body,

snorkeled and alien - and not

some inkling that plankton

might spill from my mouth.

At the limit of your world,

I sat in two inches of warm, salty blue,

ran a finger the length of you

for goodbye,

and stepped back onto my dry world -

white, hot sand

that took the imprint of my foot.

I want to think

you would remember me

if I returned to your water,

that you would find me


as you did that day.

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