Back to Issue Eight.

The Aquarium



Father’s aquarium buzzed on the dining room
windowsill, next to his African violets.  He measured
the fish-food with teaspoons and kept a pH strip
stuck to the filter and Windexed the glass with old
undershirts.  On Saturdays, he sometimes let us pick
a new fish at the fish-store; my favorite was plecostomus
and Sister’s was neon tetra. When one aquarium filled,
he started a second.  After Sister and I left the house,
I used to telephone on Sundays and he would read me
the water temperature.  And then, one day, a man followed
Sister home from the train station and cut her hair
with a knife.  After that, Father stopped going
to the fish-store.  He let the fish die and did not
replace them.  He let the pregnant guppies give birth
in the big tank, and all their babies got eaten.

Rachel Marie Patterson is the Editor of Radar Poetry. She holds an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Missouri. Her chapbook If I Am Burning was published by Main Street Rag in 2011. The recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize, her recent poems appear or are forthcoming in Smartish Place, Parcel,, The Nashville Review, The Greensboro Review, Redivider, Fugue, and elsewhere. She lives and works in New Orleans.