“Coelacanth, yes, God!
Although I had come prepared,
that first sight hit me like a white-hot blast.
It made me feel shaky and queer, my body tingled.
I stood if stricken to stone.
Yes, there was not a shadow of doubt:
scale by scale,
bone by bone,
fin by fin,
it was a true coelacanth.”
-J. L. B. Smith, Ichthyologist, on identifying the specimen of Coelacanth the first time in human history
It’s not clear whether J. L. B. Smith had an interest in literature and poetry, but this account is quiet poetic to me, in a sense that the sound of the words and the structure of the sentences captured the excitement in a very rich and delightful way. I’ll take it as a poem.
*Rhodes University ichthyologist Professor JLB Smith with a coelacanth in 1953.