Minnows, Darters, Sturgeon

By Albert Goldbarth

That there’s a fun in funeral
is goofus etymology, but a sensible reminder
of the secret life in everything… how inside dear
is deer and, inside that,
the Sanskrit: “falls to dust and perishes.”
If we could hold a word
against our ear, like a shell,
we’d hear its sea— churning in its belly,
the size of blood in a mosquito.

The way inside us is
the genome’s part of its ongoing
conversation with the universe.
The way the ageless story of the seed is still
inside the Nile reed; and the song
of the reed, inside the sheet of papyrus
— under the tallies of sweet downriver wheat
and chariot wheels and waxy cones of floral perfume:
another language.

The ho’s, the speeders, and the married slappers
never stop, they pile up like autumn leaves,
but under the scurf of the forest preserve
the “cold case” is muttering patiently, and waiting
the creation of technology that will finally point
a revelatory finger. Forgetting is only remembering

thinned with foreign particles.
If the Neolithic village is ever excavated
out of its silencing earth, the wind
will still know the notes. One night
the woman lightly places her fingertips
one the head of the man asleep beside her:
somewhere hundreds of brain-equivalent miles down
inside him is a database
of fossils of earlier women. Later,

his turn: with his ear against her back,
between the shoulders: there, the whole script
of an alternate reality is being recited (someone
plays his part) in a drama
compounded of glial cells and electrical links.
Today I heard the radio interview
of someone who studies the sounds fish make;
her special focus is minnows, darters, sturgeon.
They’re noisy, it turns out, when you have
the proper equipment… thundering booms
and drawn-out kiss-squeak figure prominently
in these fierce displays of territoriality
and sexual welcome underneath
the still and quiet surface.

Con Corona, Mexico. Flor Garduno

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