Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch


The fish floats on its side, crumpled
in the corner of the tank. I worry
that it's finally dead, walking closer
until I see the slightest movement.
"Hi fish," is greeted with a flip or
a flop. Sometimes I sing. And
then I toss in more bloodworms,
steering them numbly toward
the edge. I feed the problem, pretend

I'm serving up a cure. For a long
time the fish sought shelter in the
volcano, its back wedged up inside
the hollow so tightly that you had
to look hard to even see it. But
now it's always out, steady
reminder that, even if we're not
dead yet, we will be. I wait.

I watch. There was a flick of the
tail a minute ago, though as I write
this the beaten blue form floats
lifelessly, full of a life that won't
go gently into the toilet or the
backyard, wherever we deposit
our losses. I know it's wrong

of me to make everything into a
sign: the clock on the bedroom
wall that's been reading 7:50
for months, the blood that's dripping
down inside us, whether bruise
or blot, the way each coupling
feels more frantic than the one
before it. Something is rising.

I can see it. It's waiting to be
plucked from the water, dark
harvest of the reality we only
pretend to overlook. The other
day she wanted kumquats,
explained, "They're sour, sweet,
and bitter at the same time."

The difficult part is remembering
to let them linger on the tongue.
You have to wait for it. Too soon
and it's murder. Too late and you're
spending hours looking at a dead
fish. Melancholy means the space
between, staring at the moment.
I'm doing my best not to blink.
Tags: autobiography, poetry

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