Beta Death

Newman died today. And I did not implode nor explode. I did not submit to impulses irregular nor aberrant. He is a fish. Nothing more, nothing less.

Nothing more, nothing less?

Not this.

Not this…

A fish is more than just a fish.

Just ask
Elizabeth Bishop

Who, at the fish houses, caught a tremendous fish.

A tremendous fish!

…How can a fish be tremendous?
How can this assail my circumstance?


1. We identify with the living.

I see his gills breathing. I mind my breathe.

This afternoon, I see him motionless
at the bottom of the tank,
and think of certain—

2. We are responsible.

I had been on vacation and let his tank become muddied. Yesterday, I hastily cleaned and filled it with tap water, neglecting the chlorine filter…

3. It reflects our care.

If I had only maintained his water…

my poor, defenseless babe–I mean, fish!

Needless to say,
a fish more than just a…

This night, for instance,
I bought food at the grocery store with more care,
while thinking
of what to name my new Beta…

Petunia, perhaps?

– – – – –

R.I.P. Newman (? – 7/20/2010)

See also: “Your Dog Dies,” a poem by Raymond Carver


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