I spent the mornings of Vanishing Wildlife looking up
through inches of acrylic holding back the hammerhead,
the tuna, the sardines, etc., only steps
away from humanity’s stream leaking from upstairs,
mornings of forced smiles, hands to my side, and shades
of blue meeting khaki as I give direction after direction.
My feet prepared for a day’s work
preemptively throb, recognizing
the day ahead and all the days
that have preceded it.
Soon I regret not walking vacantly in the morning
after the absent
count flip count flip count flip count flip
seeing the octopus, the sheephead, the otters,
the sunfish, the penguins, the mantis shrimp,
the species upon species of rockfish, but
one day I do visit the baby loggerhead turtle, encased
in a small cube of a tank, surrounded by
a boxfish or two and some other nondescript fish,
and as the loggerhead looks lonely I wonder
if I am just projecting my loneliness onto it, both of us
trapped in a square space, counting the days
before we move on. I don’t
remember the day it leaves, too
caught up in myself, my work.
But outside, does the peregrine falcon, diving
from the old smokestack
decapitating pigeons, notice
I keep trying to return
with the same speed?
About the Author
“Aquarium” represents the collage of memories that came back after no longer working at an aquarium.
Lucas Bailor is an emerging writer from Moreno Valley, California. He is currently working towards his MA in English. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Boston Accent Lit and POST(blank). He sometimes tweets @lucasbailor.
About the Illustrator
You can follow Rosie’s amazing art on Instagram.
Aquarium is one of the many amazing poems from the upcoming fourth edition of the literary collection The Machinery.
Feel free to share the poem on Social Media or let us know what you think about it in the comments below!