Carolyn Evans Campbell: ‘Darwin And Me And The Sea’

Darwin And Me And The Sea

Of course I already knew
I was related to a fish,

evolving as earth cooled,
the cosmos rained
and Eden steamed—

not necessarily a common fish—
killer whale, blue dolphin,
or a market delicacy—
tuna, salmon, brown trout,

but the dermatologist
has confirmed
ithicaris vulgaris—
microscopic fish scales
covering the lower half
of my corpus.
I’m to return in six months
to see if the condition
has progressed.

Progressed? Progressed?

Will my eyes be lidless and bulgy?
My loose underarm skin flow into fins?
My lips open and close
around invisible O’s, and blubber
over blueberry breakfast bagels?

Already it’s out among friends
to cover their fish tanks
lest I take a plunge,
lock up the cat, and not mention
tartare sauce.

If I’m going to return to the sea,
I’d like to be beautiful—shocking
blue, fuschia-striped, sizzling-pink,
electric mermaid. I’d like to swim
in a weed-green world of wavering
purple fans and haunting sonar songs.

Now I understand I am also related
to the rhododendron. It’s true.
Science has proved it.
Our little black dots line up.
I’m also a rosa berserka, daffadolis
senilis, and geranimus domesticus.

The point is, I’m the same stuff
as brother walleye and sister wax bean.
I am the first bump in life,
a proud fish.
It is all so very lovely.
And it explains why
I love to rhumba and swim nude.

Carolyn Evans Campbell

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