Told one of the goldfish wouldn’t last the night…
Told one of the goldfish wouldn’t last the night
He hid his eyes under a fierce scowl
And went outside on the flags and rode his bike
Round and round, round and round
But it did no good and he brought the fact back in
Heading for his bedroom and his secret stash of chocolate
But his mother got under his scowl and halted him
Till he showed her his eyes and that was that.
So much sorrow there is in a not-quite-five-year-old
They know so much already and suspect the rest
Already they are beyond being consoled
They watch, they have seen it signed and witnessed
That all living creatures have one thing in common:
They die. Creatures as intricate and various
As a worm, a swallow, a cat, a water-scorpion
Baby and grown-up, all of them, all of us
Die. So when in her arms her child became a well
And the waters of sorrow that are under the earth broke through
For a golden fish she was inconsolable
Grieving that his grief was right, just, true.
from Nine Fathom Deep (Bloodaxe, 2009), © David Constantine 2009, used by permission of the author and the publisher.