Today's poem is by Ellen Kirvin Dudis

Betta Splendens

From this 3" jar I see little else
than I am meant to, i.e., little
more than myself giving the false
impression of another, rousing requital.

Wholly without vanity, simply vain
assault unfolds the foil of my fins'
cascading splendor into rain-
bows chased beyond the limits of my own expense—

witness the fluid peacock rush the tail
he flourishes; no more room than this
for moves that want bravura. Gills
flare. The cape the matador is bullying is his.

Love never offers. I see another,
not the other. Nights, I rise for air
—O lost lagoon, O submerged fire—
and on three inches of water
float these kisses. Your heart's no larger than the jar.

Copyright © 2003 Ellen Kirvin Dudis All rights reserved
from The National Poetry Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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