Fish Time – Suzanne McArdle

 

Fish Time

When Africa was ice

in meltwater seas

boneless toothless

 

split from shale

the old one’s flattened eye

surprised and preserved mid-swim.

 

Before feet

new-boned warships dredged silt.

Devonian gills stiffened to jaws

 

bones sharpened

to fangs

fish fitted every water-place.

 

       *

 

In river floods

Xia Dynasty carp

kettled in lakes and ponds

 

fattened on nymphs

from the silkworm farm,

eaten, bred and spun to gold.

 

Koi glossed orange,

white and black.

Thousands spawn

 

the ragged-finned

the blemished-skinned

fed to Dragon Fish to fire up scales.

 

       *

 

North Sea fish

hang like crotchets

on staves of nets.

 

Haddock and plaice

sorted, weighed

tossed back alive and dead.

 

      *

 

 

 

Under fluorescent lights

on rain-dark nights

girls dangle white legs in foot-level tanks.

 

Oil-black Garra Rufa

swirl pale limbs

nibble dead skin

        *

In Japanese

Koi

sounds like love.

 

Take this tancho,

strung on pearls,

feel her pumping heart

 

in water

she could live

two hundred years.