Breaking the living
film with my hand,
I touch the fish
no one has touched
or seen where he lived
nosing swiftly
through a forest
of reeds, at ease
on any dark level.
My cunning depends
on his intelligence,
on his own good need
changing in a silent
run the shape
of his mouth opening,
closing over my fat cricket
impaled, still wriggling,
now swallowed whole.
Cutting the last
surface, he has come
beyond his knowing,
swinging too free
in what he cannot
swim through, the panic
of air, desperately
believing the barbed
fin rising
is made solely
for my hand.
The insistence of his long
bone, his full
strength focused,
is almost enough.
His back is as wide
as the reach of my hand.
For the sake of his mouth
I push the hook
back in his narrow
throat. He is shining
iridescent, blue.
His thin, red
gill breathes
the impossible air.
His round, perfect
eye sees
me a shadow
in an old dream
of pure light.

First published in The Nation

© Idris Anderson