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Wang Xiuying


Far be it from me to mention
things that really happen

but I did go to this fish farm once
and did discover this:

that despite the long cold pools of fish
outdoors and the bubbling tanks

indoors, and the rocks they sell
(one pound fifty for a real rock),

and the age-sloughing smell of green
spawnwater and the wavering ferns,

and well, the fishes themselves –
not every mother’s son is there

to make a start on a fishworld.
I mean, I made the joke –

Give me a grill pan! A joke, though.
Then I also learnt that ugly ones

are bred with selected pretty ones,
black blurting goggling ones

with ones who seem to port their orange
brains outside their orange heads

and any with the equally
slender lemon-blues.

So no wonder some don’t swim as well
as I could at infant school, but

bob, and get bobbled away
by my slightest fingerdipping, don’t

seem equipped even to shock,
let alone lure or blend, seem not

unlike the distressing upshot
of a baby’s day of fun.

I also learnt that fish can die
of their own accord, oblivious,

and when they do they rise and float
while hell continues darting loose

below. I knew fish died! It was
seeing one side up, on the water,

length of thing with nothing in it
got me.

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