“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.
Bernard, Rosemont, Jeanne-Mance Park,
Honourable, semantic, overpass,
Doctorate, Galway, Esplanade,
The miscellaneous reminders,
Loss now the only signified,
Carefully they cut through my pulmonary valve,
Now that you are omnipresent.
The entire logos my haunting ground.
“To lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty.
How free it is, you have no idea how free –“
Whispering into my wicked bones, like fairy slips through lichen and moss.
Lie on the floor awaiting to be taken,
I smiled as if this corps would be still for ever.
How free it is, I know exactly.
Yet I miss the excitement of the spring earth,
That chill of a summer refrigerator,
Calling me is the voice of a country singer.
Now that I think,
Even the odor from the back alley of Parc Avenue is somehow familiar. Not only that,
I wonder what it feels like when my son pees on my arm,
How painful it would be, to see my daughter falling on the ground,
How wonderful it is, to see an enfant growing into an adult.
And I want especially,
To hear you read Tulips to me,
So much joy awaiting,
So many miracles pounding.
That I have to wake up, into this dreamy reality.
I thought it would be the last fall,
Like what they said, the war that ends all the wars,
Or, in Francis’ terms, the end of the history,
I really thought so,
Until you broke it down.
Now I’m scared,
What if it is the last fall?
During those fleeting days you were the majourity of my life,
I breathed you, I touched you,
I sensed you, I sniffed you, I thought about you,
I imagined you, I lived in you,
I desire you, I was with you.
Now you are my entire past.
Entirely, you defines me.
Gabriel García Márquez might teeter on the tip of your tongue,
Your legs might become too stiff that walking together in a quite forest would be luxury,
Your wrinkles would proliferate as the memories carve into your beautiful body,
Your illed body would be too clumsy that I have to grab and lay it down on bed every night when I’m at home,
Life will demand us to pay the due and the obstacles would sabotage our happiness.
Or that might be me,
I will look at you and all the memories will come up and I will smile deeply so intensively recalling all the moments the reasons we fall in love the aroma of your hair the texture of your skin your body hair your existence and I would feel that love is always there and I just can’t stop loving you and I’m still deeply in love with you and all the dreams the fantasies the desire and the hope
If you stay
Decomposing quietly under the fine-grained slate.
That spell melodiously you indelible name were carved with delicacy.
Simply the delightful silence of an aging pine tree;
The one which charmingly witnessed our memorable first treat.
Compels me to fill the empty space you left with my flimsy breath.
Somehow if you
Find me in that graveyard we know near which Cohen was laid carefully.