And here, a fish that can’t be alive,
in the dirty martini stream that doesn’t exist.
Yet it does,
curling at the humeris and ulna
of Mississippi and Southern Aves.
in Southeast Washington—city of elbows.
Legless swimmer, let me imagine,
you fell from storm clouds hissing in sky,
traveled from parking lot via rain sewer
in paper cup or Guinness can barge,
not fifteen downhill blocks from St. E’s
where Pound sang his cantos to sleep
under Chinooks from Bolling Air Force Base,
and gray destroyers in the Navy Yard,
and deeper still, a geology layered
by hands skilled in the art of corruption
so that dinosaur gravel from 60 million years ago
beds with alluvial clay from an era of live birth.
This rarest of rocky marriages,
the only one that produces magnolia bogs.
No wonder its popularity among middle schoolers
like my mother in the Fifties, preparing to be greasers,
or to protest police activity in the Mekong delta,
but on another corner of her bitter witness
the pursuit of any meaning is what matters,
and a hot herring sandwich at Auntie Lucy’s.
Even today, as four deer gossip in the fens
two beautiful brown boys climb the bank,
a little hip showing above their damp denim
as if they’d just been for a swim.
Editor’s Note: Poems of place illustrate the sensibility of the residents of a particular area. Oxon Run is an urban park in the midst of Washington D.C.: the narrator’s attention upon an impossible fish is merely the starting point for the story of inhabitants that aren’t necessarily human.