The Harvesting Room

Fri, 08/07/2015 - 13:53 -- KMN178

Behind large, black flaps was

A harvesting room my father simply

Titled “the Wholesaler.”

Pumps thrust water into small roiling seas,

Spritzing salty droplets

Into the dank and heavy cloak of air;

Soupy sunlight poured on

Damp wooden shelves housing one hundred stained,

Algae-clouded fish tanks;

Massive, thrumming generators awashed

The place with a dull roar,

Swallowing strained shouts into loud silence.

Thousands of fish drifted in suspension,

Still, before rapidly

Darting in disarray with a glass tap.  

Dingy, humid and close,

The room pumped watery blood, and exhaled

The scent of the ocean.

It throbbed and heaved with life.


My sopping flip-flops squelched

Against cracked cement with each cautious step,

Gaze trained on a wall, while

My father shared the species of each fish

That caught my straying eye,

And confidently strode ahead of me.

I stopped, with wide eyes, and

Exclaimed at autumn mosaics glazing

Four large, glimmering coys,

Delicate fins swaying like elegant

Women’s evening dresses,

Then pivoted and faced neon parrotfish

Flecked with stippled marks, and

Bulbous pearlscales swiveling to see

With large, innocent eyes.

Dazzling masses of fish appeared in

Every corner of view,

Overwhelmingly vivid in color

And intricate designs:

Glinting, glassy, complex.


The raw pulse of the room transformed to that

Of a distant beachside,

Rhythmically paced by pounding machines like

Thunderous currents crashing;

Bathed in the briny tinge of seaweed and

The acrid scent of decay;

Crabs scuttling in plastic containers

As if trekking across

Rocky niches gently filled by clear pools.

Creatures from foreign seas

Retained otherworldly wildness with

Narrow faces and frayed fins,

Confined to Brazilian rivers and

African reefs by glass sheets.

The harvesting room brimmed with breathtaking

Life; its richness beyond

All imagination.

This poem is about: 
My family
My community


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