Robin Gow's poem "8oz of water" originally appears in Issue No. 52: In Transit.
8OZ OF WATER
the day of surgery you can only drink 8oz
of water & i want to use mine to house
a goldfish. i want to get it right this time.
it seems like all my goldfish died too young.
they ask if i have a living will & i say no.
the thing about goldfish is if they get sick
no one tries to save them. i asked my parents
to take my goldfish to the doctor when the fish sank
to the bottom of the tank, staring blankly into
the blue pebbles, i imagined a doctor in a white coat
dipping his stethoscope in the fishbowl.
He would nod & give us a little jar of pills to save
the fish’s life. we never flushed our fish
down the toilet like normal people. i ask
them where the parts of human bodies go
that get cut off during surgery & they
say “medical waste.” we buried the fish
behind the garage. i made them tombstones
from scrap wood. another one of our fishes
had a stroke which made the fish bend in half
& swim in circles. i hadn’t realized until
then that fish could have strokes, that fish
had so much body like we do. blood & organs.
no one performs surgery on a fish. it’s
not worth it. the oldest goldfish on record
lived to be 43 which is nearly twice as
old as i am. if i met that goldfish i would
grow gills & crawl into the tank with
the fish & ask him about what he knew
of life. i would tell the fish that i imagine
“going under” for surgery will be a lot
like living in water & it excites me.
fish stares forward beyond the walls
of the tank. i wonder if i would be a more
insightful creature if i also couldn’t blink.
i kiss the fish on the forehead & thank him.
ROBIN GOW’s poetry has recently been published in Poetry, New Delta Review, and Roanoke Review. He is a graduate student and professor at Adelphi University pursuing an MFA in creative writing, editor-at-large for Village of Crickets, and social media coordinator for Oyster River Pages. He is an out and proud bisexual transgender man passionate about LGBT issues. He loves poetry that lilts in and out of reality, and his queerness is also the central axis of his work.
Read the other poems, stories, and art from Ruminate's Issue 52: In Transit.
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