if a fish coughs


just now someone said…fish cough
…instant merriment…
I imagine sardines in schools
of swirling murmurations…
mere flicks of gaiety in sunshine dappled sea…
then…an attack of fish cough
where tiny spasm hiccups and tumble sparkled flips
explode the blue with fishworks
of jostle bump…of upside down and backwards
daring gravity

now…if someone said this to me in church
say…a wedding…worse a funeral…and then cough…
I’d be lost…a shoulder shaking…gasping agony
that most would mistake for crying,
yet I’ve been known to take
whole lofts and chancels with me
…in instant merriment…

Bonnie Marshall

Photo: Henry Jager

6 thoughts on “if a fish coughs

  1. Bonnie, loved this! This poem would be great to be read. The language is flexible and fluid and wonderful imagery. Funny, I’m working on a piece using murmeration as well–great word. >KB

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