Thursday, February 24, 2011

More on Writing and Grief: A Prayer for the Fish

When my son, Aaron, was quite young, he had a fish which he called "Sharky." When Sharky died, he was very upset, experiencing grief for the first time. He begged me to write a poem ("Dad, you're a writer and musician..." -- this was the job of writers and musicians)and to conduct a funeral ceremony. Aaron himself created an astoundingly moving collage of all the meaningful words that he could summon. I played baritone saxophone over the fish's grave which was under a peach tree. I wrote this poem for Aaron's fish which I read at our ceremony. This small loss -- which for this small boy was not small -- was felt greatly. He was desperate for a ceremony to heal, to memorialize, to give grace & 'rightness' to the death of this living thing which he loved. We somehow learn to walk by falling.

Charles Bernstein posted his beautiful cover blurb for Akilah Oliver's A Toast in the House of Friends today in memory of her passing.

"The ceremony of sorrow is performed with a measured, defiant acknowledgment that makes words charms, talismen of the fallen world. Poetry is a holding space, a folded grace, in which objects held most dear disappear, returning as radiant moments of memory’s forgiving home."

Tucked away in the rarely visited recesses of my computer, I came across the poem that I wrote for Aaron's fish.


Goodbye fish
you were my best fish

I will love you even though you are dead.

All of the family has gathered round
to say a prayer
to bury you under this tree.

Your tank is quiet now.
The water empty.

You will be a shooting star
in the deep blue sky
and your tail will shine.

I want you to swim
to your mother and father
I want you to swim
to your brother and sister .

I want you to remember me
when you flick your fins
and flap your tail
out among the other stars.

Goodbye fish.
You were my best fish.
I will love you always.

Goodbye fish.
I will love you always.
I don’t know why you died.


I Love You said...

O thank you for sharing this, Gary!

Tom Beckett said...

Beautiful post.

Pearl said...

touching words, story.

Unknown said...

lovely poem my fish has just died I'm devastated.