Mr. Goldfish and Vicky
Of the days when Sam fell in love
with Vicky, this scene remains:
his legs draped over Julia's Windsor chair,
Vicky in his lap, his nose to her
snout as she licked him. We left her
and a portion of Sam's heart at Hedges,
to roam Sumerside in the village
of Buckland near Faringdon, Gloucestershire,
all her Border Collie genes
intent on ingathering, keeping together,
reckoning and accounting, a kind of canine
Shire Reeve, and returned to our
Bronx high-rise, its great distant
views of hospitals and armories and bridges
and its no-dog clause in the proprietary lease.
And thus enters Mr. Goldfish,
one of a pair in a carnival prize,
who came home to an icy bowl of dis,
to a refusal to name, or make
comfortable. His companion died
but this nameless fish survived,
growing first to the job title
Goldfish, then to the respectful Mr.
All night reading, I hear his moods.
The ravenous picks at the surface
of the oxygen-poor water, the turns
in the current of boredom, the way
he begs me for something, makes me worry
for his weight, worry for love,
for his limited, fishy, pathetic love.
Judith Baumel is a poet, critic and translator. She is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Creative Writing Program at Adelphi University and a former director of the Poetry Society of America. Her books of poetry are The Weight of Numbers (Wesleyan University Press, 1988) for which she won the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets and Now (University of Miami Press, 1996)