Leslie Beach
The Night of Many Flushings

Twenty-five goldfish interlock
in a bag
of water suspended
three inches over the door.

It opens.

Water snaps down, columnar, spattering
the curls of the head of a girl not quite their target, terminating
in shattered splash. Among their divots swim the fish
mouths chewing
their first encounter with gravity.

One plated eye might register green
blur, round smear, flurried motion,
another fin might flap
in fluid air
unsure how to paddle this flickering substance.

But most, obeying
Galileo's Law of Uniformly
Accelerated Motion, flutter gills
through their habitual element
and only stutter
when fragile bodies made for the mouths of turtles,
catfish, cichlids, (undesigned for a life
longer than a day)
smack
against alien-grained wood. Fingers (what odd

pink pinchers
squishing against fine
lined dorsal fins, delicate
forktined spines) pluck
the strewn morsels from the boards,
and plop them into
a metal mixing bowl salted
with vegan tears.

The first dies then.

Others follow, presenting
Soft bellies to the ceiling.
They twirl their danse macabre through soiled waters,
souls hovering in the U-bend
hesitant. Suspended.
Algae to Algae. Bag to Bowl to bowl.