Beneath the waver of the dorsal fin lie the blood-shades
of lamellae, their skin so close to the vein they breathe,

filter, gather, flex, set down in loose and frangible parallels
you find in gills of mushrooms, clams, and concertinas.

Wave after wave, the tissues of the water breathers
conceal what they reveal, according to their vital rhythm.

Fins that breathe flit this way, that, in the give-and-take
of panic and lust and tropical surge from no one place.

To every fish, flesh, nightmare, and song: a private opening
and the name it bears. Let us call it tomorrow or lament,

the heart of my volition. To every want the one who wants,
chosen, given, taken in. To every bride, the lamellae

of the sugar and sleeve. Layers of lace that advertise
the power of enclosure, how, in some siege of arrival,

a white interior lathers the shore. Somewhere downwind
the music at the altar, both bride and gown take a shape.

One part surge, another spray. One part the urging
of the processional march. A woman wets the mouthpiece

of her oboe, blows, adjusts the angle with her fingers.
She understands the value of a quality double reed,

the thin resilient tip that, when sounded, vanishes from view.
The better lamellae take time. The better harvest

from cane fields of a southern France. First the cut,
the cure, the second shape and then, by laser-beam, a third,

and finally the carve of a craftsman who will go nameless.
Now we are coming to the passage reminiscent of a fish.

We are speaking a loose-limbed language as it swims
the caverns, in the ear, out the mouth, encircling the future

groom, asleep, and the body of his bride beside him, almost
there. Our darkness breathes more deeply in the dark.

Somewhere a fly taps the window and dies. Night’s web
flutters. A mushroom slips the bricks of the drive. It wants

in, and out, and neither, revealed and concealed as childhood
is, and music will be, and all we lost, seek, and never find.

We are coming to the passage reminiscent of a tune
though we cannot know just what or where. When I was a boy,

my skin was so thin I spent most days alone. I wandered
the yard and was its lord, its terror, its scared apprentice.

Mostly I was no one. I was just that transparent, that adrift.
Beneath the brim of the cap, the mushroom’s papery fan

broke to pieces at my touch. It crumpled the way the bodies do
beneath a shared diagnosis. I thought I killed the pattern in

my hand, but what I held were spores. Beneath the umbrella
of a new cloud, what I felt was the first light breath of rain.

More Poems by Bruce Bond