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Gregory O’Brien

Solidarity with the anchovy

                        For John Jenkins and Ken Bolton

Are you listening, brothers?
There are consolations—

though your daughters
are far from flashy, your sons

washed up and your long summers
confined to the ice box

women’s stockings await you
fishnets to lift you

out of your depths. You brave oceans
your only defence the way

you hold yourselves. Which is why
you are worth more than

your salt. And why
I address you midstream

the ocean a vast movie
starring each of you.

You dip your noses in black ink
and write the history of the world

unsullied page after unsullied
page. Maybe I am dreaming

but you shine
as dreams do, dug

like coal from pitch black
ocean. You are

without contradiction
even if both the violin bow

and the fuselage of jet planes
have so obviously been modeled

on you. Or so you would argue
if argument was in the anchovy’s

nature. Certain things you will never
understand: staircases

traffic lights, the fourth draft of the poem,
much that lies beyond us

as well: Why a cellphone will never be
a celeste, even if a car horn

might one day become
a trumpet

played at the end of time
and, hopefully, well.

In houses by the sea we seek
your company, or proximity

to your nocturnal
navigations. This we

agree upon, as four fishes in a flat tin
are in accord

and as they were once collectively seduced
by blinking lights and fishnets,

hauled upwards into
the opaque air.

Like instruments in a case,
your careers are streamlined—

you just follow your nose
your future

secure, preserved in salt
in oil you are professed,

blessed by the saint on the lid as
it is peeled back—heads down,

souls intact. I wrap this sheet
around you, this sheet

which is wrapped around
the both of us. Do you read me?

July 2006  |  Jacket 30  Contents  |  Homepage  |  Catalog  |  Search  |
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