[34] Koi, Nels Hanson

Beyond the French doors
of the restaurant look
into the cobbled stream,
how moving water feeds

a grassy pool. The yellow
koi are huge and numerous,
minted scales gold coins
for a Chinese emperor,

treasure from a sleeping
dragon’s bed. When your
shadow falls across their
backs they rise, noses lifted

toward the thinnest border
between water and air.
When you walk along
the narrow river they follow

like geese, 20 glowing carp
eagerly pursue your shade
crossing their gilded
fins. Then turmoil,

wild splashing, whirlpool
at sea. They fight to
climb on top the other,
fish displacing fish

a Tower of Babel
so the king can capture
bits of bread like manna,
like falling rain.

 

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