June 1, 2015 by The Citron Review
By Daniel Lassell
We entered the pet shop, shoddy as it was in the center of the urban limits, and funneled to the backroom, where fish circled eyes wide in several tanks, all buzzing and bubbling with life to keep the life there living. A man with a shrink-wrapped t-shirt and greased hair approached us and we told him we’d come for fish, and he smiled so that his teeth looked like the white bubbles rising in the tanks. “Here’s peacock,” he pointed to some fish grouped in dozens along their shelved homes of wood, rocks and weeds. “And there’s zebras,” he gestured at another dozen. Are all fish named after other animals? He showed us how the two interbreed and the eggs are carried in the mother’s mouth for weeks before hatching—that the mother doesn’t eat for the entire time lest she eat her children. That’s why the eggs are taken from her and put into an incubator. The man pointed to several tubes of bouncing eggs in the tanks, all waiting and growing and fearfully desiring their mother’s mouth. We browsed the walls, pointed and the man explained: “These have an attitude…no, those wouldn’t work with your size tank…these are babies, but they’ll grow about ten times this size.” The man had a devotion. He loved those fish. How wonderful it must be to see generations grow and go out into the world in plastic bags. He must wonder how they fare—if they live or die within 24 hours. Does he weep when customers leave?
Daniel Lassell is the recipient of a William J. Maier Writing Award and has been featured, or is forthcoming, in publications such as Reed Magazine, The Hawaii Pacific Review, Steam Ticket Journal, Agave Magazine, and Sixfold. His poems have also been anthologized, most recently in New Poetry from the Midwest 2014. He lives with his wife in Indianapolis, Indiana.