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Saturday, March 19, 2011


by Shana Wolstein

Sometimes, I watch movies made for children
—for them we let life remain simple.
Today, like that, I watched a fish desire
to be a little girl and the ocean
chased after to reclaim her. The whimsy
of paved streets used as roadways for ancient
fish that slide across mountains like trains; but
this is no longer simple. I wonder
what other whimsy has fallen ill in
the wake of the real wave. What hope fell when
a thousand bodies washed ashore, when just
yesterday I heard only two or three
hundred dead. (To think that only could curb
such a thing.) In the movie, the ocean
is the mother, the father, an evil
wizard; they forgive humanity for
the promise of love. As mom and dad they
come together, we never question why
they began apart, if this disconnect
is to blame. The fish wants to be a little
girl because of love, because she loves a
little boy who promises forever.
But today there is Japan, wiped clean—
the promises we made to the ground and sky
that we had formed something there, in-between.
Is this our space for blame? At one point, we
hoped for time. Long enough to question life:
the how of living, the why. Now we hope
only that it does not get worse. We hope,
like Ponyo, for balance. To set the world
against what we wish and to find order
in this design. For the fish drank blood and
that bonded her to land: her sisters, swirls
of schooling fish, their red scales like linen
uniforms, their eyes bulge out like scared kids.
Now the ocean laps the blood of Japan
and finds itself bound there too. Energy
swells and threatens to engulf again and
we buzz in the saturated air—
not breathing, to hold a kiss like flying.
Because Ponyo ends in the air and we
end, forever falling away from it.

Shana Wolstein is currently studying toward an MFA at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. Her work has appeared previously on-line at La Fovea and is forthcoming in Third Coast Magazine.