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On the Naming of Fish

I asked him for the names of fish
More to change the subject than to know.

"Colisa lalia."

All he said. Nothing more.

Nothing so safe as fish
In their little glass boxes,
a cushion of liquid between us.

"And that one?" Catfish. I know it is catfish.



"Julie, I..."

Ill-omened, indeed,
that flare, then silence.

Not flinching. Refusing to flinch.
Little catfish burbling, bewhiskered.

All he said. Nothing more.

And then I see the tag.
Little catfish. Little fish.
Corydoras julii.

He never calls me by name.