Hooked to the end of its line,
hoisted high, that live
iridescent disc, perplexed
eye on each side--it hung
like a lone wind chime....
My grandfather hollered like the kid
I knew he was, You
caught that sunfish! But he lied--
he was the one who'd lifted that life
to the sky, out of the public pond
on the map of my memory, that day
in Fairmount Park. I was five,
the air far brighter than older
eyes could admit, the crowd of waders
a sparkling carnival of spirits
come to shine incarnate
in the earthly light. But memory,
kind servant, might
protect me here--maybe
it was I hauled the sunfish out,
dragged it onto the sand
and dirt among the soda cans,
cigarette ends, and tossed
wrappers. Did I poke it
with a stick? Was I six?
Was the fish ours? Perhaps
an older kid beside us,
who'd learned to pierce the worm
with his hook, had let us look.
All I'm sure of's this--
I saw a thoughtless dying
radiant thing--it hung,
gasped, turned in the stir
of useless air, in the wind of light
and time. It still hangs there.
"Sunfish" first appeared in Prairie Schooner, under the title "Innocence."
Jed Myers is author of Watching the Perseids (Sacramento Poetry Center Press), which included the poem above. Poems have appeared in Nimrod, Harpur Palate, and Atlanta Review.