‘Koi Pond’ by Robert Peake

Koi Pond
in memoriam K.J.

I went to pay a visit to the koi,
to see what they thought of my life,
and how I had been living it.
Beneath the imperturbable surface,
they mouthed the words, saying
“bleb” and “bleb” and “bleb.”

Some torpedoed, others swung
a lazy fin, like an oarsman,
turning a casual arc. Some lay
like unexploded mines, chin up.

I became so outwardly still,
the black cat crossing the painted
red bridge failed to notice me,
and the turtle drifted shoreward
like a sail with six points.

Of course, my son, who lived
too briefly for my liking,
was there with me as well,
and my pocket notebook held
against my hip many small
laments, carefully arranged.

A friend of mine is writing
about his melanoma, having reached
bemused indifference that he
could go at any time, hoping
for more life, and smiling
like a child at his future.

What is the future, koi, who
sip the the rare pond surface,
and descend? You are here
to teach me something, I am
sure, just like the tumours
in the dark organs, blooming.

And when our paediatrician
bowed his head, that man
of science became ordained
a priest of human religion.
What was his prayer again?

The water going dark only
makes the orange seem brighter,
as you race, and kiss, and spar
for food, pretending not
to notice me. For this gift
of your indifference, I am
grateful. I will sit until
the pond goes black, the last
orange spark extinguished.
Robert Peake is an American poet living in England. His debut short collection, Human Shade, in which Koi Pond first appeared, was selected for the Lost Horse Press New Poets Series in America by Marvin Bell. His poems have appeared in Poetry International, North American Review, Iota and Magma.