Today's poem is by Julie Danho

The Betta Fish, Christmas

We have three choices,
he said: kill it, let it die slowly
in the small, cold bowl,
or fork over for a tank
with a heater and filter. The store
had said the half-gallon size
was fine, but not according
to the hours he spent online
after buying this last-minute gift.
Head in his hands, he vowed
not to bring it back in the cup
it had been kept and sold in,
said he'd rather crush it
than watch it suffer, than let
our daughter see it float
dead in days or weeks.
It had been a long hard year.
Our axis had moved enough
that we could expect land
and step on water instead.
This fish was a tiny red
problem. It barely moved.
We placed the bowl on the desk
as we decided the worth
of its life. Bred for beauty,
the betta would fight another
male to the death. But this fish
would not. It would be
only as we said. We looked
at him like a painting until
it came time for bed.

Copyright © 2016 Julie Danho All rights reserved
from Sugar House Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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