Friday, June 24, 2011

The Fish

In the process of updating my blog, I have been turning the drafts into posts (if they are worth the trouble) or just deleting them. I have no idea why this poem was in the drafts, I must have really liked it back in 2008 and was probably planning to write something profound to go with it. Or maybe I had just had met a fish on a dinner plate and this poem spoke to me. Never mind, I am posting this today because it speaks of Pittsburg, and we are headed that way next week. So there, now we have a context.

The Fish
As soon as the elderly waiter
placed before me the fish I had ordered,
it began to stare up at me
with its one flat, iridescent eye.

I feel sorry for you, it seemed to say,
eating alone in this awful restaurant
bathed in such unkindly light
and surrounded by these dreadful murals of Sicily.

And I feel sorry for you, too —
yanked from the sea and now lying dead
next to some boiled potatoes in Pittsburgh —
I said back to the fish as I raised my fork.

And thus my dinner in an unfamiliar city
with its rivers and lighted bridges
was graced not only with chilled wine
and lemon slices but with compassion and sorrow

even after the waiter removed my plate
with the head of the fish still staring
and the barrel vault of its delicate bones
terribly exposed, save for a shroud of parsley.

~Billy Collins

No comments: