Penguins love poems!

fish counter photoYesterday was National Poetry Day.
Unfortunately, as is sometimes the way in a busy workplace, all our best intentions fell by the wayside as we dealt with a plethora of enquiries. We failed to blog (as planned) about poems we have known and loved. Our sincerest apologies to poets and poetry lovers everywhere, we know how disappointed you must be in us.


One staff member though, insisted (mainly by jumping up and down around my feet!) that it was never too late to share a poem.
And so, in lieu of a librarians choice, I give you the poem most beloved by Pablo, our resident penguin…
“A Display of Mackerel” by Mark Doty
They lie in parallel rows,
on ice, head to tail,
each a foot of luminosity
barred with black bands,
which divide the scales’
radiant sections
like seams of lead
in a Tiffany window.
Iridescent, watery
prismatics: think abalone,
the wildly rainbowed
mirror of a soapbubble sphere,
think sun on gasoline.
Splendor, and splendor,
and not a one in any way
distinguished from the other
—nothing about them
of individuality. Instead
they’re all exact expressions
of the one soul,
each a perfect fulfilment
of heaven’s template,
mackerel essence. As if,
after a lifetime arriving
at this enameling, the jeweler’s
made uncountable examples,
each as intricate
in its oily fabulation
as the one before
Suppose we could iridesce,
like these, and lose ourselves
entirely in the universe
of shimmer—would you want
to be yourself only,
unduplicatable, doomed
to be lost? They’d prefer,
plainly, to be flashing participants,
multitudinous. Even now
they seem to be bolting
forward, heedless of stasis.
They don’t care they’re dead
and nearly frozen,
just as, presumably,
they didn’t care that they were living:
all, all for all,
the rainbowed school
and its acres of brilliant classrooms,
in which no verb is singular,
or every one is. How happy they seem,
even on ice, to be together, selfless,
which is the price of gleaming.

Mark Doty (1995) “A Display of Mackerel” from Atlantis,  HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Pablo has also pointed me to this webpage, on which the author discusses the poem and explains how it’s not just about a tasty fish (for avoidance of doubt):

Thank you Pablo, you can return to your basket now.

Photo by Sky Noir

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