Brian Boies “Cod Flashes”

Cod Flashes

Catch and release
but first, after
the flapping stops,
pull a paint-dripping brush
tight down both
sides of its body.
White to teach
a lesson about survival 
to it and
everyone who sees.

Highly visible
through the muck,
it will travel
far south, 
far north
hugging the river’s top ice
until the danger has passed.

I am painted white inside,
my muscles only know taught.
Different doctors say 
this shouldn’t be happening
to someone my age.
Why so wired
and meditation only makes it worse.
I am counting down.

Cod arrives
at its camouflage destination.
Maybe safe
but ghosts are also white.

Three sheets I layer
to cover the ice,
I too have found a home here.

A red fish fibrillates
inside me.
Seize,
unseize.
With a whimper,
arythma.

If the ghost is me,
if the ghost is which part of me,
fish can fellowship
and compare our woes of white.
Maybe the ghost will be only my mind
and haunting is a boast
of finally free.

But before,
we will sleep
me on these stacked sheets,
the cod, bobbing in the current,
exactly below
my meekly knocking heart.

About the Author: Brian Ed Boies lived by train tracks and transcribed train graffiti and used it as prompts.  This poem is from that process. He has been published by the National Endowment of the Arts and in Punk Planet and ZYZZYVA. A story of his was listed as Notable Nonrequired Reading in 2012. He lives in Sacramento with his wife and daughter.

Image Credit: Public Domain image originally from The history of esculent fish London: Printed for Edward Jeffrey [etc.],1794. Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

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