When Ruby Was Still in My Arms
November 15, 2015. Boston, MA
Nine-month-old Ruby in my arms,
her curious eyes following my finger
as I point out the fish to the future poet,
in front of a huge salt-water fish tank.
This is her first time seeing fish,
an aquarium of a couple hundred.
The guided tour is an easy one.
A first-time visitor, she knows nothing
about fish. The explanations are simple.
Big fish, small fish, yellow, red, blue,
orange with black stripes.
And some hiding in the coral, it must be
fun to navigate through those channels,
time and time again, they seem to swim
whimsically through the passages
as though relishing the intricate paths.
And no questions asked. That makes my day,
since I really don't know much.
A good start? The color, the shape,
seem to spin her eyeballs a bit.
It's not easy to discern what she thinks.
An innocent smile,
quick eye-contact, no nod,
as though, big or small, red or yellow,
the color, the size, are not her concerns.
It all started in the tiny fish bowl.
And now the salt-water tanks bring up
a kaleidoscopic collection.
It must be the salt,
spiking with fancy colors,
agitating the scale,
multiplying the size,
hiking up the flair,
tempting the peaceful ones to become wild.
And the cumulation will go on, the tank
becomes bigger and bigger.
Once upon a time,
I could hold the bowl in my hand,
or within my arms.
And now the surrounding tank
has no limit, no edges,
it swallows me.
The story goes on,
the collection is unique, as they all are.
And if you wait patiently, long enough,
really long enough, it will be her turn.
She will know and explain in great detail,
not just the color, the size, but also
the name, the symbiosis between
anemone and Nemo.
I’ll nod and drag my two
feeble legs, for her sake, pretending not to be
crotchety for a day. I’ll barely spit out
a question or two from my sapless body and soul.
She will smile to answer at ease as she
holds my arms to make sure I don't slip.
The tour will not conclude until
she shows me the original salt-water tank
that was her first visit.
Then she may say we are all fish,
and it is nice to learn to swim.
And I will tell her it is also nice
to learn to hide in the reefs.
Ruby is my 7th granddaughter.
The Best of It Is, There Is No Other Choice
Witness, it disappears.
Look, it cannot be seen,
it is beyond structure.
Listen, it cannot be heard,
it is beyond sound.
Sniff, it cannot be smelled,
it is more than spice and scent.
Trace, there is no beginning.
Follow, there is no end.
Feel, it cannot be touched,
it is more than emotion.
Grasp, it cannot be held,
it is more vague than a shadow.
Seagull soars to the heavens,
relinquishes no path.
Breezes rustle the dried leaves,
and caress the wrinkled faces.
It comes and goes,
stays with it,
moves with the present.
The best of it is,
there is no other choice.