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

3 comments on “To a fish on her birthday

  1. This touched me in every part of my being. I understand the Piscean personality…one of my sisters, my daughter and I are all Pisces.

    What a beautiful tribute to your sister! So much peace here and acceptance. You have a wonderful gift…I love reading your work!

  2. Oh Barbara…you expressed that so lovely. Leaves me speechless but I wanted to let you know I liked reading it so very much. I thought of her so much the last few days. So odd but I forgot she was a Pisces like Mom. Now I really see that though, in reflection.

    One time I was looking thru Country Living magazine on her last visit to us. I was showing her some darling log cabins, very ‘cute’ Country Living style ones. She looked at the picture and said, “yes I have a log cabin, but it doesn’t look like that.”

    Well close to tears now, can’t write more but thank you!

    Love, Helen

  3. Marion — Thank you for your kind words. I’ve read that many astrologers think of Pisces, as the twelfth sign of the zodiac, to be the most highly evolved. I don’t know, but it wouldn’t surprise me, as I have found the Pisces people in my life to be incredibly giving and loving.

    Helen — It amazes me, looking back, how that single event, which happened in an instant, effectively divided my (the whole family’s) life in two. I’m glad you liked the poem. It was extremely cathartic to write . . . but also left me feeling ragged for a few days. Painful but healing . . .