From the Depths

Till I discovered Fishman nothing had been planned. 

Life was an empty land. 

A Kalahari Bushman would surely understand. 


A stranger fetched up at my door bearing the awesome news: 

“He’ll help you beat the blues. 

He’ll put some bounce in you for sure, some shine upon your shoes. 


He died two thousand years ago, and yet we have these notions 

that still he swims the oceans, 

powerful and nice and slow, and asks for our devotions.” 


“How can Fishman help,” I said, “unless he’s pretty close?” 

The stranger was jocose. 

“By mental power instead. It might sound grandiose. 


Fishman enters every sea of thought if he’s invited 

and though he’s never sighted 

he’ll be in the vicinity and you will be united.” 


I gave the stranger tea and cake. He stayed at least an hour. 

This talk of Fishman’s power, 

ostensibly a wild mistake, made my acceptance flower. 


“But there’s an evil trawlerman who sails the seven seas 

looking for Fishman. He’s 

our enemy. His fiendish plan is finally to seize 


our mutual friend and slaughter him. We must not aid his threat. 

By our bad deeds we let 

Fishman down, and quarter him, and snarl him in the net.” 


I vowed I would not cause as much, and promised my support 

by acting how I ought, 

and said I hoped, by doing such, Fishman would not get caught. 


I felt agreement in my gut, an end to my malaise, 

and pledged one of these days 

to go down to the mission hut and sing some songs of praise. 


The stranger left contentedly. I had an inner glow 

and hoped that I would know 

this character eventually and that the change would show. 

uncollected, © Paul Groves 2023, used by permission of the author

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