To a fish on her birthday
Can I still believe in love, in spite of you?
Was it a Pisces thing, you loving
so much? For nineteen years
I’ve swum slow circles around your death.
I rarely speak or write of it.
People tend to turn away,
afraid to touch my pain, fearing
a touch will make it theirs. Even I
feared to swim this way again.
On jury duty, two years ago, I was
excused because I’d think too much
of you, who shared the barest thread of fate
with a man who’d been shot dead.
You’d be fifty-six and still I swim
against the pain, inching myself
your way again. Did I love too much?
Can one love anyone too much?
The oldest sister, a Pisces like our mom, and
shy yourself, you seemed to understand.
You dished out love, but did you claim
your share? Did we return enough to you?
How can one love so much? I try to think
of love as holy fish and bread, divided, multiplied
’til all are fed. But if that’s true, how is it
one you loved so much could harm you?
Was it a Pisces thing, your love? You were
no cold fish. Sometimes I think you loved too much.
My Pisces Mars dampens me into a steamy
bog for love. Your Pisces Sun was light.
Was it a Pisces thing, you loved so much—
so much, no holding back—so much it melted
ice—a river overflowing so with Pisces
love it made a flood? Even so, was it enough?
I should not think that I can love too much.
A fish lives, once entombing ice melts down,
and you were no fancy goldfish drifting delicate
as feathers in a glass bowl. You would’ve laughed.
When your body fell—then did your love
swim free? A wild salmon, did you bunch red muscle,
at white water, over rocks and logs, leap up falls,
spinning unending love back to its source?
Were you the first to forgive? Before God, even?
I still believe in love because of you.
Copyright © 2007 Barbara W. Klaser