Mothers Day in the Aquarium

by Andres Cordoba

We were cast like beat metals
Into the deranged blue. I held a hand out to you
And was captured by the shadows

Made by loggerhead, moray, barracuda;
Over your face lay a shark silhouette,
And I could have always loved you right then.

A sign read:
You are the first humans to see these creatures captive.
In your arms I watched

Grunts and bigeyes
Wrestle drums and snappers
For the last bits of chum

Raining down the colossal tank
Like roseate rescue flares
Descending from violent heavens,

And there was a sea nettle in you,
When I watched you stare into the murk
From the opposite side of the glass—

You were distended, smiling grotesque,
And when we made eye contact, I shivered.
Goodness was groping at your pale heart

And had nearly slunk its thin way in.
You told me you now recalled dead dreams
Of being a lagoon jelly. You told me

To be mostly water would be respite.
You told me there was an alien portion
Of this planet, and we were merely the visible nexus

For a gruff and putrid evolution. Your anger,
When well-channeled, was symphonic,
It rose like underwater air,

It ensnared the phytoplankton, the saragossa,
The morose light that crept through the top
And then vanished into the mega-gulch—

You and your many burials.
You who said it was better to be exhibited than devoured.
You thought it would be cruel to eat fish

After spending a day in their admiration
So we scarfed burgers on the pier
And you likely chided me for a lack of long term vision—

I was seven. You were odd like a rock-
hopper. I got a bobblehead hammerhead souvenir
And promised to be a better son.

You, buckling me in; you, shifting the lock
From my eye; you, stiffly pulling away to say,
Yeah, we should do this again sometime.

Like I was client. Like I was blobfish, borne of abyss,
Hideous, sentenced to a life of blacklight.
Like you saw me for what I was—

A primate admiring the closets of a sodden earth,
In an inscrutable land I could never fully traverse,
Sibylline, strange, looking to be hurt.

Published on April 11, 2024