Once a year,
But only two times I can remember,
The blue fish come to Gloucester,
Chasing the schools of silver fish
That migrate, (God knows why.)
When I was little, I always wondered,
If the oceans are soooooo big,
How come the fish find each other
All the time?
Do they have radar?
Or are living creatures just innately better at
Finding other living creatures
If they’re only doing it
When the blue fish come,
Out with them follow fishermen,
The sure folks that pull life from the brine.
But for me,
A child still,
When the blue fish came
I caught the festival of death
That celebrated itself
Within the changing of the tides.
The shore-line’s moon-bound ebb and flow
Brought silver sand anew-
I saw it from my spot on the concrete sea wall
And assumed the beach was alive with treasure,
That some long lost pirate wreck
Had been kicked up by the passing of the fish,
Its casks split open
Sending precious silver sprawling on the waves
All the way to my feet.
I dashed to collect my bounty,
My mother’s hand in mine
And her in tow behind me
Because pirate treasure does NOT trump mothers.
Mother in tow.
I stopped short and sudden at the water’s edge,
I was struck dumb,
I was standing perfectly still.
When I spoke I was stumbling and slow
“Mom, are those fish?”
“Yes Honey, little ones. They wash up here in the thousands this time of year.”
“Do they die?”
‘Oh,’ she said, “Oh, yes,
I thought you knew.”
I didn’t know, mom.
I had no idea.
I took off down the beach
Leaving mom behind
Stopping only to stoop and
Scoop up handfills of any fish that were still flapping
Between my fingers and in my palms they
stared at me with soft confusion,
And this stupid, pointless, animal innocence
Until I flung them as hard as I could
Back towards the sea.