A Wreath To The Fish Poem by Nancy Willard

A Wreath To The Fish

Rating: 3.0


Who is this fish, still wearing its wealth,
flat on my drainboard, dead asleep,
its suit of mail proof only against the stream?
What is it to live in a stream,
to dwell forever in a tunnel of cold,
never to leave your shining birthsuit,
never to spend your inheritance of thin coins?
And who is the stream, who lolls all day
in an unmade bed, living on nothing but weather,
singing, a little mad in the head,
opening her apron to shells, carcasses, crabs,
eyeglasses, the lines of fisherman begging for
news from the interior-oh, who are these lines
that link a big sky to a small stream
that go down for great things:
the cold muscle of the trout,
the shinning scrawl of the eel in a difficult passage,
hooked-but who is this hook, this cunning
and faithful fanatic who will not let go
but holds the false bait and the true worm alike
and tears the fish, yet gives it up to the basket
in which it will ride to the kitchen
of someone important, perhaps the Pope
who rejoices that his cook has found such a fish
and blesses it and eats it and rises, saying,
"Children, what is it to live in the stream,
day after day, and come at last to the table,
transfigured with spices and herbs,
a little martyr, a little miracle;
children, children, who is this fish?"

COMMENTS OF THE POEM
David Gerardino 16 December 2005

NANCY, DID YOU WRITE, SKIN OF GRACE?

1 1 Reply
Jacob Russell 23 May 2007

Water Walker, a collection of Willard's poems has one I come back to again again-her 'Foxes Fall to St. Francis' from the poems with title borrowed from sport page headlines. Other favorites from that book: In Praise of Unwashed Feet and Magician's Wives. I wish there were more of her poems. Jacob Russell

1 0 Reply
Brian Jani 17 May 2014

Nancy Nicely layed down.it flows nicely.well done

1 0 Reply
* Sunprincess * 26 June 2014

...............an interesting and thought provoking write....fish have interesting lives...happy birthday nancy!

0 0 Reply
Fabrizio Frosini 20 July 2016

'A Wreath To The Fish' ('una ghirlanda per il pesce') ..I like also the title.. ;)

10 0 Reply
Edward Kofi Louis 20 July 2016

In a tumnel of cold! Thanks for sharing.

0 0 Reply
Susan Williams 20 July 2016

This is the kind of writing style that I crave- -it has such texture and flow and depth and imagery and excellence!

0 0 Reply
M Asim Nehal 14 December 2015

Wonderful oem, I liked it. A thought provoking poem indeed.

0 0 Reply
Lawerence Mize 27 June 2015

Really enjoyed the imagery in this one.

0 0 Reply
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