Today's poem is by Charles Harper Webb

Sand Fish

It's said they started in beach sand,
but now it's Gobi, Sahara, Mojave grit
the fish sift through their gills, absorbing
oxygen and nutrients while swimming
swiftly as their cousins slide through sea.

They lack all natural enemies—no sand orcas
or seals, sand gulls or pelicans that plunge
into hot dunes to scoop and spear; no sand
fishermen with subterranean hooks and nets;
no sand marlin, sand sharks. The desert

breeds gentle fish. (Abundant sun? Few
clouds? Some quality of superheated air?)
Still, they are rare. The Bedouin who sees one
is called Allah's Best-Blessed, and can claim
any camel in the tribe. (This has not happened

in years.) It's said the sand fish have gone
deep as tuna do, spooked by a ship. Gone deep,
and learned to slip through rock. I hope
it's true, though it means I'll never see one.
When L.A.'s desert seems hostile to life,

I close my eyes, and sense shapes moving
miles below—megamouth, evolved past
hunger in the stony night; deep-sea anglerfish
with lanterns on their heads that blink like fire-
flies: an intermittent guiding light.

Copyright © 2013 Charles Harper Webb All rights reserved
from What Things Are Made Of
University of Pittsburgh Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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