He wonders why his breath on her white neck
should seem such a patronizing gesture?
Is he one of those usual depressives you see
stretched to the point that they can only perform
a rather windblown succession
of controlled self-images?
Or is he a living volunteer to the cause of life,
blessed with ladylike hands
and a hunger comfortable yet insistent
as all hunger should be?
       Still,  the woman—
a crinoline Mother Goose figure
(or was that him?) leans
against the sweating glass
of the shark tank
and begins to squirm away from his mouth
(admittedly a mouth that was always
poorly lit), holding her own hands’
undulant silhouettes up to the water light
(black dorsals of some mystery flounder).
They threaten to detach from her wrists,  to multiply
beyond their posted capacity,
to bring the whole damp scene
cranking down
in indecipherable blue and black washes
upon white tiles centered
with embedded splinters of pink coral
and sand dollars.
       In the pupil of his eye
a doll reflection of her hovered in the dank room,
her hands invisible behind her head
which is a red stream commencing
from a cold underground lake.
        He had always been the classical Father,
through lacking children,  and his face
was one of those “assumed” products
which no one considers consciously
and which was far too smooth
to cling to the mind’s underbelly.
The woman’s electric flutter of a face
was an inquisition to him,  an insulation,
a too-solid adaptation
of the Struggle as social law.  Surely,
here in the black and blue fishroom,
he would prefer to pull away slowly from these waters,
leaving his hands (almost ladylike) behind
for hours after the rest of him had fled
to some plain American soil.
       And is she knew she might be the last
(or just another) safe harbor
for the noble and lonely blue whale,
and if she owned an excitement
bubbling toward an alert atmosphere—
she still dreamt of being drowned.
       She found him devious in the depths
and disliked his ambivalent hands,
almost ladylike
with their flakes of dry white skin,
like scales.