Goldfish

A harrowing poem about the aftermath of conflict
Profile picture of Uchechi Princewill

Created by Uchechi Princewill

Published on Jun 25, 2024
photo of a river at sunset
Dave Hoefler, Unsplash

Note from the author: I've been sitting on this poem for a few years. I intended it as an examination of humanity as scavengers of ourselves, and I feel it is more relevant now than it was when I started piecing it together.

Please note: this piece includes sensitive topics that some people might find difficult. Please visit our Resources Page for help.

Goldfish

The river on the edge of the village 

is a different kind of goldmine than the villagers are used to, 

gold all the same

fishermen, what they call themselves now

feet in their combat boots

parading in the dawn after a night of fire and

shying away again when the guns begin to speak

fishermen return with gold and more combat boots

the previous feet in them removed

sometimes intact clothing

having stripped the fish floating down the river

and discarded the photographs in their pockets

every day finding more fish to strip, 

every day fresher than yesterday,

fishermen growing concerned

because you can see it, 

their eyes are darkening, 

and every day, the laughing joy of finding 

is edging into panic on the edge of madness

considering that,

first, the river doesn't stop at the village

second, the gun speech is closer-louder every night

third, our resemblance to fish when we are sleeping

perhaps soon,

in the next dawn after war night

fishermen in the next village will be finding us

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