Sarah Hilton

The Fishbowl

I wanted love so violently. When I tried to / see it, all I could think of was the shape of an animal. / In my poems, love moved in a herd. Body like a thunder / running wild. Hooves heavy as a heartbeat. Love was / a four-legged machine. Love was an eight-pound heart. / Tonight, your back is pressed to my leg / while you sleep, and I can’t help but think, / instead, of your brother’s new fish. Five in all, kissing my fingertips / at the waterline thinking this is their feeding. He’s saying / they’re so delicate they don’t have a need for a name. I can’t stop / thinking do they know how near the end is. Do they even have a word / for love. How heavy is their heart that they could even behold / anything. In fifth grade science, we learned the goldfish is the happiest animal / on earth because it’s memory spans no more than ten seconds. / Imagine how fiercely you could love when / all you’ve ever known is discovery. To think I have ever known / love and survived. To think it was ever a horse. / Your body rests so deeply against mine and I am still / so full of names. They circle the drain and I reach / for you in the dark. I catch your hair and pray / for water. You sleep so still I imagine / we’re suspended without oxygen. I imagine us as goldfish. Our world contained / in the bowl. Pirouettes in a funnel of ignorance. / There’s only so much to take in. We slow / our bodies. We take our time. We share / each observation like a pearl. I notice the coral, / the seaweed, the tank flowers. You mention the rocks, / the other fish, the sky beyond. I notice the coral, the seaweed. / When we finish our stroll, I turn to you and I am overcome / all over again. I’m meeting you / for the first time. Hello, I love you. / I want nothing more than to walk with you.

Sarah Hilton (she/they) is a lesbian librarian, or…a lesbrarian! Her work has been featured in several print and online journals including MinolaUntethered, and Long Con. She is the author of Saltwater Lacuna (Anstruther Press) and the digital chapbook homecoming  (MODEL Press). They live in Toronto.

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