A Massive Aquarium Holding 1,500 Tropical Fish Bursts

& each fish feels solid land before its gills
cease moving. I miss sex but can’t imagine 

dating. Glass shatters in patterns designed 
for a specific aftermath. What confession  

offers isn’t relief. From my bed, coverlet tucked 
under chin, I heard my father’s hand connect 

with my mother’s cheek. A fish slap requires 
actual fish-to-face contact. Windowpanes 

bust in shards. Car windshields spider & smash
into square chunks or mini blocks, so on impact 

they won’t decapitate or slash the face. A tank’s
ideal temperature for tropical fish is 75 to 80 degrees. 

I tried to learn how to stab the worm on the hook 
to bait the prey, but in the end I was only called 

a pussy. Tackle box tipped over, the red & white
striped sleek lure. Don’t they think of everything: 

claims to cover any minor loss, inspections to avert 
damage. Even so, at the health center, the multiple-choice

form omits the oval to fill in adopted so I leave 
the question blank. We’re here to consider my choices

in contraception, how to prevent an itchy rash down there 
& to discuss the definitions of sex & life. What’s hereditary 

gets lost to wonderland, elsewhere a consultant advises 
curators on predation, tells the team which fish to import 

for show-stopping colors & compatibility. But we know 
the inspector misses the crack, walks by the leak, & finally 

without pause someone sweeps & stuffs dozens of trash bags 
with glass & dead fish parts. We want what we want.

Copyright © 2023 by Sarah Audsley. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 14, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.