There was no fish stethoscope nor directions
to keep them alive. The tank had no lights,
no filters, no hazardous waste warnings.
Dumbfounded, I stared at my Nemos,
who were chased, captured and dumped
into my open, untrained hands. A week
of joy turned tragic as murk swirled round
the tank. I snared my Black Widow Tetra
and Goldfish for the march to the bathroom.
I thought about nature, about a balance
that can break, and wished I could save
the unsavable. I wonder what life is like
for Tetras and wannabes trapped
in a prison of glass and steel as they swim
the perimeter, and search for an out,
like Frank as he circles the office
and seeks the exit from his glass enclosure.
The Goldfish plopped in the toilet bowl,
but the Tetra, resurrected, leapt
like a seasoned Olympic diver
with triple flip and freestyle swim. I gasped,
shock stricken, a Darla confounded,
for my Black Widow became a Nemo,
who feigned death and vaulted the barrier,
a Knievel option closed to Frank.

The Ravens Perch has published Holly Dunlea’s poems, “Oblivious” and “Residential Reality.” Her poem, “Solo Performance” was published in DASH. “I Know What I Saw,” and “The Visitor” were published in Literary Hatchet. Read more at