Susan Wicks The Doomsday Fish
Where did they hang it – here in the nave
in a pool of glassy light, or from one of the chandeliers
that dangle so low over the pale aisle
they almost brush our heads? Or from a window-ledge
high on the north side, to seaward
with a view of the swelling Baltic? From the pulpit
with its helter-skelter steps? But they came later.
The church was smaller then, empty of furniture.
At any rate it fell
not once, not twice,
not three times even, when the gates of Hell
were supposed to burst open: it flopped and flopped
in a slither of falling fish, and lay
like a shoe worn thin with walking,
till they threw it in an attic and left it to dry
to Peking duck, its prophesying life over.
Or perhaps they pinned it to a small cross
by its lateral fins, above the rough altar
where a pilgrim once saw it gasp
and arch its spine and writhe, and cry like a baby
hungry for love, as it had the day they found it
under the first foundations, in the spring’s clear water.
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