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Fish Face

May 29, 2008

Deep in sea-rye live murmurs—
tales drifting to shore
about fish that can talk,
promise-making fishes,
wish-granting fishes, even fish
with human faces.

One such fish fetched up
in a net off the west coast one day
and spooked the crew, who calmed
themselves by teasing the youngest
among them. “Look, kid! Here’s
your granny! Or is it your girlfriend?”
The boy blushed, shuffled his feet,
looked out over the ocean.

The fish, who couldn’t talk,
lay dying on the deck. His life
flashed through his memory,
a saga of absurd yearning, a life
spent swimming from sea to sea
looking for faces just like these.

by Diane Gage

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  1. Una Hynum
    May 29, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    I really love this poem, the progression of it, the deep layers of meaning and the caring voice of the one who wrote it. Thank you for making my day brighter and giving me something to think about. I may never look at fish the same again. Una

  2. May 29, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    What a fantastic ending. Thanks.

  3. Karen Stromberg
    May 29, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    Water is the only element for this poem. It moves so fluidly and carries
    so much weight.

  4. Wes
    May 30, 2008 at 1:13 am

    Such a pleasure to once again hear your clear, strong voice. I’m glad your face has looked on mine.

  5. May 30, 2008 at 2:43 am

    such a beautiful, moving last stanza.

  6. May 30, 2008 at 3:18 am

    Nice surrealistic feel to this story.

  7. May 30, 2008 at 9:58 am

    Really enjoyed it. Thanks.

  8. Glenda Richter
    May 30, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    What a provocative poem about how we all wish and yearn for a friendly face….whether we are of the land or of the sea!

  9. joan
    May 30, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    this took me to childhood remembering … brought back so many magical stories about fish from those old fairy tales, “wish granting” and more. and then the theme of all kinds of longing finding its way into longing for faces, for familiar, for those we recognize, claim as ours, as kin. thank you.

  10. Suzumi
    May 31, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    what a lovely poem with clear eyed meanders toward and past the crew, the blushing boy, and finally the fish who’d longed for faces.
    a sweet, attentive and compassionale imagination is at play here.

  11. Christina Pacosz
    May 31, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    While this poem reminded me of those fairy tale fishes and their three wishes or swallowed rings, it also made me feel very sad. I thought of the troubles the fish are having in the terrible events happening in the ocean now and how those human faces are all too often the reasons for the difficulty. Overfishing, loss of habitat, pollution, warming oceans. What we’ve done to water and those who inhabit it! Poor fish!

  12. June 2, 2008 at 10:53 am

    I love this sad and whimsical poem, which reminds me a bit of Kafka, crossed with a fairy tale.

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