Fish Cubes –From Tales Beneath The Electric Blanket
Fishcubes Winter 2008
went to bed late last night knowing the frost was coming,
the news said Florida would freeze.
i woke at 7am, it was 30 degrees,
but the windchill made it feel like minus 21
looking out the back, I could see the lake was lumpy,
things were bobbing up and down,
i bundled up under 3 sweaters and 2 coats,
2 pair of socks
figuring seven was a lucky number to keep me warm,
while accenting the look with
vinyl dishwashing gloves.
even the cold burn of the metal door handle could be felt
through the yellow elastic fingers.
standing by the shore,
i could see by the light of a tepid rising sun
that the bodies of the fish had frozen into cubes
floating atop the lake.
Surely they would die!
so I gathered trash cans onto my small boat
and went about netting bream,
shiners, bass and mudfish into the cans.
when sufficiently satisfied
that all the fishcubes had been harvested,
i rowed back to shore, rushed inside the house
and built a nice fire with a fake log,
then wheeled the trash cans in,
warming the fishcubes before the phony phlames
stirring the scaly swill with metal tongs
and a pinch old bay seasonings.
one by one the fishcubes melted
with utterances of a deep, aquatic nature.
a rather large bass floated to the top of one can
and asked where he was and what date was it?
saying his memory had been impaired by the cold,
“it’s January 3rd 2008”, i remarked.
when a bream, so excited to be thawed,
jumped from one trash can flopping onto the hearth
with his gills fully expanded,
thanking me profusely
for rescuing his family
i lifted him gently back into the water.
a very mature mudfish leaned forward
telling me his family
had resided there since the Esocene era —
he said his fish ancestors were the
oldest living residents of the lake
to which a shiner called him a liar-
there was a sudden ‘fish-two-cuffs’,
a bass jumped up and pinned the mudfish to the wall of a can
calling the shiner a lowlife carp
– barbs were exchanged.
once the shiner dove back down,
the mudfish seemed to calm
until he spied my fishing pole in the corner of the room.
he pointed a fin toward the pole yelling,
“traitor human, traitor human, we’re all gonna die! ”
while pitching his slimy body out of the can shouting,
“i would rather sacrifice the generations of my family
than become your trophy–” he pointed to a deer head
on the wall “look!” he gurgled.
hundreds of fish heads peered over the edges-
mouths agape looking betrayed and fearful.
the bass was the first to raise a dorsal fin and call for anarchy—
suddenly fish and water overturned the trash cans
splashing violently all over the pink carpet,
as scaly, wet bodies crashed about
ruining my antique furniture,
hurling through the glass of the china cabinet,
while 2 gars played catch with my Lalique figures,
delighting in watching them shatter
into glass confetti.
slimy fins slapped open the books off the low shelves
as smudged, black ink stained the water.
there was complete piscine chaos-
heads and tails
heads and tails
flapping about chattering in ‘fishlish’,
one catfish croaking “o sole mio”-
what had i done? i wondered,
what had i done? i didn’t know what to do.
i ran to the garage and put on waders,
got my net,
put on nose plugs and dove
onto the saturated carpet.
fish crammed into my boots
slashing my legs with sharp scales,
i did a hand stand to get them out
and opened the back sliding door
with my feet.
fish and water
gushed out the opening
in an adfluvial advance,
those crazy fish somersaulted
all the way back to the lake.
i sloshed my way toward the garage
to get the wet/dry vac,
lighting some candles to get that fishy smell out,
when i noticed a small 3inch bream stuck
to the side of the leather couch
his shiny lungs expanding and contracting.
i slowly peeled him loose as
his bleary eyes looked up,
“water, water” he said in a very puny voice.
i rushed him to the sink and plugged it up,
the little guy was swimming about happily,
a smile on it’s little fishy face.
its’ fishy gaping lips breached the surface of
the stainless steel sink.
“do u mind if i ask u something?” the fish lips flapped.
“feel free,” i reached down and tickled his sides
as he laughed out loud emitting burpy bubbles.
it tilted it’s head, “i have always wanted to be domesticated –
would u let me live here with u?”
i didn’t know how to react,
so i asked if his family wouldn’t miss him?
he said he was orphaned when he was only a fry
and was afraid the other fish would try and eat him.
i told him it would be an honor to have him as a pet
and went into the attic to search for the old fish tank.
When I came inside carrying the tank,
the neighbors cat sat hovering
over the sink
and suddenly pierced it’s canines into the heart of
my new pet fish which was screaming,
it’s anal fin flapping spasmatically back and forth
as the cat ran off with it.
i held the tank in my arms and
weeped 10 gallons worth of saltwater tears
into it, born from sadness and frustration,
the weight being so heavy it slipped from my hands,
and spilled to the floor.
i was afraid it might take
bringing in a herd of deer when it dried
for a salt-lick-up.
my legs were wet and cold and
plastered with glass and loose scales.
the floors were ‘ichthy’ and wet,
everything reeked of fish and mayhem.
i moved the vacuum to the kitchen
to mop up my tears.
i felt i had learned a lesson that day,
don’t ever be a humanitarian on freezing days
by saving frozen fishcubes,
they will be fine left alone.
and never make big promises
you can’t keep
to small fry…