The Fish

How they appear: tunneled vision
in a brackish world. But they weave through it,
ambient, loose as the drops that brush their skin,
slick colony of mists. Or do not weave.

These snaking vines, these luminous passersby
who quiver and blink in strange upstagings
don't form obstructions to a path, but mark details 
in an intimate landscape, one that, though vast,
in practice is always narrowed . . .

Minutiae abound, things small as the tip
of an eyelash, which the fish might gulp,
for inside lies the way to another world
of blood, fanned bones, cold pearly spears
around which scales furl armor. Slits
for breath, sleek passageways, flutter life 
in beats, the rhythm of their keeping.

Where they exist: this pulse they are hinged on, 
this harsh gill music. In colorless fog,
or where a billion hues confound,
they can settle on the island of that 
breathing, hold fast to the stone of it 
as the great mouth churns, each wave 
one ring of truth the sea itself extends.

From Woman Reading to the Sea by Lisa Williams. Copyright © 2008 by Lisa Williams. Reprinted by permission of W.W. Norton. All rights reserved.