October 21, 2008

Today, in Ohio, my mother
will have a small procedure.

Rejecting technicians’ equivocations,
she seeks a second opinion.

Sometimes the stranger comes so close
she can almost make out his face,

but then a sound—the dog’s nails
tapping the floorboards

in sleep, a branch at the window—
tugs her mind from that dream into

another, the way the Congo tetras, glinting
like silver dollars in the tank’s bluish light,

shimmied suddenly from one zone
to the next, then drifted, suspended,

eyes ticking as if in thought… But this is not
her memory. The fish were mine. I can’t

remember where they ended up. A pet store
on South Shepherd, I think, the year

we moved from Houston. Beautiful fish,
raised from small nothings. Long dorsal fins

trailing like undulant veils. Shimmer
of blue in their silver. I’d linger

to watch them hover and drift,
their bodies’ slow turning, shifting

like sleepers. The world the glass contained
was like the sanctuary I imagined

my house to be: I could not enter one,
nor bear to leave the other. This phone

folded closed in my hand, the same silver
as those fish, contains, impossibly, my mother:

her voice, or its approximation,
digitally rendered. I am my mother’s son.

I’ve always been. If there is another world
beyond this one, and if nothing I’ve imagined

will be there, does it not follow that somehow
we’re dreaming in its belly even now?

by Ron Mohring

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  1. October 21, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    Wow. Great poem.

  2. October 21, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    Wonderful, how the narrator tracks his musings along so many tangents, then brings the whole thing to a metaphysical plane. Great!

  3. michael
    October 26, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    I love the discursive nature of this– felt like I was wandering around in the narrator’s mind while medical issues and fish and the metaphysical all collided; but everything remained clear as consciousness instead of veering off into chaos.

  4. October 29, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Thanks. I truly appreciate the attentive readings.

  5. R
    November 7, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    Beautiful. That first part is so simple, and yet such a perfect hook for drawing us further in.

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