A Goldfish Sings a Tentative Psalm

Today’s guest post is a poem by my wife (and collaborator), Aniko Albert. There is a story behind this poem related to our relationship. After reading it, you might want to take a look at an earlier post on this blog called Tank God (dated 11/19/2015). I had first posted that piece in December 2011 on a now defunct chat site called Gather.com, where I met Aniko in 2010. Aniko had written this poem a couple of months before I posted my piece, and when she saw it, she sent me the poem. We were both struck by the coincidences in the two pieces (although my piece is more snarky, and hers is more poetic, which is sort of typical of both of us). I told her that we must be cosmically connected (yes I was already very interested in her, although at that point we hadn’t met or spoken). In the following two years we became closer, exchanging emails and texts, Skyping, and to make a long story short, at the beginning of 2014 Aniko moved across the country to live with me, and we were married that summer. The best thing that ever happened to me. So besides the beauty of the poem in its own right, I have very special feelings about it, since I have always thought it was an important part of my success in finally finding the love of my life.  

A Goldfish Sings a Tentative Psalm

By Aniko Albert


The perfection of the universe is written around me:

bounded yet infinite space.

Light bounces back and forth

reflecting and refracting

in every direction

defining its liquid geometry.

I sway with the perfect cadence of its smooth substance,

I dance with the caressing currents of its fine-tuned laws,

I’m one with its still, self-enclosed beauty.

I lack nothing: colorful manna falls in its appointed time,

Brine shrimp and worms in their seasons.

Down I go to bury my nose in sand,

to lay in cool green glades of leaves.

Up I glide to the shining flat boundary,

where the gate to nothingness is open,

a soft, rippling surface my fin can break without effort.

I play at jumping into it, just for the thrill,

to shudder at the feel of vacuum on my skin,

to feel the sting of emptiness in my gills.

I draw a circle up there, and laugh on my way down

as the nature of things pulls me back where I belong.

On other days, when I feel like it,

I race along the curved boundary,

brushing its closed hard brilliance with my tail,

thinking about its mysteries.

Some say those images on it are illusions,

tricks of the light as its rays hit our eyes,

paradoxes we can expect at the edges of reality.

Some propose that they are our dreams,

perverse projections from our minds,

things to write poems in the sand about but not take too seriously.

But there are those who think the shadows are real:

that there’s a world on the other side,

like ours, but different,

where strange misshapen beings

with clumsy columns for fins and tails

lumber along their illogically curved paths,

obeying a force unknown to us.

Eli the Black stops me on some days

as I make my rounds,

taps an antenna against the boundary,

curls the others into a frown of gravity

and tells me his theory.

The clumsy shadow creatures, he says, are

no myth

or mirage,

but the very reason we’re here.

They’re the creators of our world,

the designers of its beauty,

the refreshers of its substance.

They provide the flakes and the worms,

they remove what’s dirty and bad

and restore goodness.

I like the story. Some days I almost believe it.

But remember the source: Eli is a Shelled One.

They are half strange themselves, aren’t they?

They spend much of their time stuck to the boundary,

Not knowing the beauties the rest of us share in.

They eat dirt,

and crawl around ungracefully

with those heavy burdens on their backs

whenever they’re not hiding those devilish faces they have.

No wonder they like to make up stories.

I smile at Eli,

the light,

the coolness,

and keep swimming.









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