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My father is at the bottom of a pond

perfecting the art of the circle.

He is guiding the mottled zeppelin

of his body in a single unceasing turn

like a monorail running on greased steel,

like an ice skater swerving on a blade.

His scales are lava and ember dappled with carbon.

His tail, a luxurious Japanese fan.

He is so far beneath the green skin of duckweed

he cannot make me out, or I him.

What he knows is shrinking into round facts:

days like mossed stones, each the same weight,

spears of water hyacinth rising

around him like jail bars, reek of peat.

He has been down there for years—

ancient god of the dark, keeper of the single

koan, moving in currents only he can sense,

fluent as a windsock. He surfaces

three times a day when the nurse brings

a tray—cold blanched carrot and beef,

whitesauce fillet of whiting, pound cake.

He cannot trust the scratched headlamps

of his eyes so he navigates by feel,

angling his huge whiskered head

mouth-first towards the fork, weaving

like an adder charmed by smoke,

then he bites down to find the world

suddenly there again, solid as metal and bait.

My Father as a Giant Koi

Sarah Holland-Batt

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