Shiners

 

                                     Here are the shiners,

 

Hugging the lakeshore

                                 In the midday’s crystalline waters:

 

               A herd of miniature translucent gazelles,

 

                   Their quivering shadows

On the blond African savannah

                                                          Of the sand bottom.

 

A hundred-eyed vigilance

Just under the skin of the water.

 

             There is no one shiner.

 

                                                 There is only this restless mobile

Of their wandering solidarity;

 

This collective illusion of the predator

They will never grow to become.

 

This sudden departing signature

                                                         Of so many Olympiad rings.

 

                                            

                                    There is only one shiner—

                                                               The micro-tarpon of this infra-ocean bay:

 

       Amber-banded,

        Quicksilver-sided;

 

                                                          Its dorsal transparence

A provocative nakedness

                                                                      Revealing the skull and spine.

 

                                   One shiner:

A tiny mute Cassandra,

Eyes fixed in prophetic horror

 

        Of the pride of black bass

                                    Condensing from the depths,

 

     Of the ruling kingfisher

                                                      And patrolling pondhawks

                                     Of the ravenous heavens.

 

                                   But one shiner,

                                                                 And then another—

                          

                                           That whole-body seizure of ecstasy!

 

That infectious convulsion

                                           Electrifying the school

                                    Like the Holy Ghost at a Baptist revival.

 

Those sidelong flashes of silver scales

  Are a heliogram to the Sun Himself:

 

All glory to the Sun!

 

All praise to the Word of the Sun!

 

*

 

                                   And there are the shiners

Out over the depths

                                                  On the lake’s patina of moonlight,

 

                                                    In the night’s hungering fever,

 

                    Scattering into the air

                                               Ahead of the wakes of pursuers,

 

                                                            Their weightless leaps and dives

                                                            The stots and sprints of gazelles.

 

What is smaller

Than the droplets of water

They shed by the moon?

 

                                             And there is no safe harbor—

 

                                                       No refuge but each other

                                                 When they re-school minus their casualties

                                                                 

Without sorrow,

                                                             Without gratitude,

 

                                                            And migrate on through the night,

               By the ghost of the irrevocable Sun,

 

                        Snatching at low-flying gnats

                            Until the next strike of the gamefish,

 

                                 When their silver leaps

Cascade through the air,

 

Each arc

A dewdrop bridge

                                   From life

                                                              To more life

 

Of one indivisible shiner

 

Who has never known terror from joy.