Skip to main content

Tide Pools

by Derek Otsuji

For the fish swimming
through the summers of my childhood
I had no names.

But a color, a shape, or a movement
could catch and keep them quivering
in the pool of memory.

A trap jaw frown,
a body like a squiggle of ink.
Mixed species I remember by association:

the zebra striped, the Dalmatian spotted.
Others simply dazzled: a pink
blade streaked with neon yellow

that did not swim but hovered
with fierce immobility
of a dragonfly’s flight.

I watched until sunset was an orange seam
between sea and sky.
Until the tide pools filled with shadows

and evening breeze rose
rippling the water’s glassy sheen.
Until all my vision could contain

wobbled and blurred.
Until an image congealed
encircled by a word.