Sunday, February 20, 2011

Poem for Sunday, National Aquarium, Fires

Goldfish Are Ordinary
By Stacie Cassarino

At the pet store on Court Street,
I search for the perfect fish.
The black moor, the blue damsel,
cichlids and neons. Something
to distract your sadness, something
you don't need to love you back.
Maybe a goldfish, the flaring tail,
orange, red-capped, pearled body,
the darting translucence? Goldfish
are ordinary
, the boy selling fish
says to me. I turn back to the tank,
all of this grace and brilliance,
such simplicity the self could fail
to see. In three months I'll leave
this city. Today, a chill in the air,
you're reading Beckett fifty blocks
away, I'm looking at the orphaned
bodies of fish, undulant and gold fervor.
Do you want to see aggression?
the boy asks, holding a purple beta fish
to the light while dropping handfuls
of minnows into the bowl. He says,
I know you're a girl and all
but sometimes it's good to see.

Outside, in the rain, we love
with our hands tied,
while things tear away at us.


My Saturday has been entirely concerned with fish and fire. After getting Daniel to robotics early for a meet downtown, we set out for the National Aquarium in Baltimore, which we hadn't visited in a few months -- Adam just got a Sigma 50mm 1.4 lens and wanted to test it on something interesting -- but as we approached Laurel, we saw a huge amount of smoke on the horizon and traffic slowing ahead. We quickly got off I-95 to take local roads over to the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, but that was very slow as well, since heavy smoke covered the road and the air was hard to breathe. We managed to get to Baltimore, where we learned that brush fires all over Maryland had shut roads and caused evacuations. The aquarium itself was crowded but fun -- the flying foxes and lorikeets were on display in the Australia region, the puffins were jumping around the Atlantic seabird exhibit, the sloth was on a low branch where he was easy to see in the top floor rainforest, the sharks were circling.

Then we started heading home, only to find signs on I-95 warning us that the highway was closed in both directions. We got off onto Route 29, figuring we needed to go directly to Daniel's school to pick him up from the robotics meet, but it took us nearly two hours to get there, at which point we decided to go have dinner at Subway across the street since it was 7 p.m. I was pretty fried when we got home, so rather than challenging my brain, I made my family watch Finding Nemo, which of course had everything to do with all the kids at the aquarium looking for clownfish and nothing to do with Geoffrey Rush voicing Nigel. Then we watched the news, where we finally got details on the fire that disrupted our day so much -- it started at a mulch plant, then the high winds that also toppled the National Christmas Tree and caused 150 acres of Shenandoah National Forest to burn sent it into the local brush, hence the choking smoke. I am pretty fried, though I did manage to avoid the migraine I usually get from smoke inhalation...however, I didn't have time to play around much with the photos I took, so here is one adorable image, with more to come:

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