I can’t stop thinking about it

The Parrot Fish

The shadow of the little fishing launch
Discreetly, inch by inch,
Crept after us on its belly over
The reef’s uneven floor.

The motor gasped our drowsy vapor.
Seconds went by before
Anyone thought to interpret
The jingling of Inez’s bracelet.

Chalk-violet, olive, all veils and sequins, a
Priestess out of the next Old Testament extravaganza,
With round gold eyes and miniscule buckteeth,
Up flaunted into death

The parrot fish. And for a full hour beat
Irregular, passionate
Tattoos from its casket lined with zinc.
Finally we understood, I think.

Ashore, the warm waves licked our feet.
One or two heavy chords the heat
Struck, set the white beach vibrating
And throwing back its head the sea began to sing.

James Merrill

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