Today's poem is by Michael Blumenthal

"And the Fish Swim in the Lake, And Do Not Even Own Clothing"
        —Ezra Pound, "Salutation"

And they never complain, and are never cold,
and their scales shimmer in the sunlight
and their gills flap, their fins perambulate,
they are so trusting of the blessings of water

that their small excursions into air can be nearly lethal
to them, oh dear Saint John the Baptist, you knew of
the blessings of the fish, as did Saint Francis, who also
blessed the birds, and we should rest assured that everything

capable of swimming naked is blessed and ecstatic, so I
rip off my clothes and dive, daily, into the soothing waters
of the Balaton, not an ounce of Hungarian blood in my veins,
but nonetheless Hungarian somehow, a lover of paprika,

pálinka, the fleshy abundance of Hungarian women, air that has
not been rinsed of all its impurities, and these little Balaton carp
and catfish swimming here beside me, they too are counting
their blessings, as is the resilient family of six baby swans

and their vigilant parents, the brown-headed gulls, the clacking storks
nested two to a village, and the stinging underwater nettles, they too
are benedicted by the elements of water, they too are blessed,
though there is no one more sacred than myself here to bless them,

the sunlight shimmering off my goggles, the water purifying,
the air invigorating, then, later, a delicate thin coating of oil
on my skin, the sense that this seemingly self-serving act
has nonetheless accomplished something good for my species,

that I am serving my kind by being here, balls distended and ready
beneath my suit, the day already primed for tumescence, the fish all
naked and oily and lovely in their happy element, as God intended
for all of us to be, though we are not, though there is misery and

poverty and hatred and indifference, but let us not speak of that now,
but only the fish, so naked and oily and happy to be here, so alive.

Copyright © 2012 Michael Blumenthal All rights reserved
from No Hurry
Etruscan Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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