Adrienne Raphel



Imogen had a glass tank and one fish.

She loved to look at her fish, slept

that she might dream of her fish, looked away

for the bounding pleasure of seeing it again.


One day, Imogen went to the river

to gather new water.

She set out up the hill

and down the hill

and over the field

and down to the river.


Imogen peered into her face and saw

the most extraordinary thing:

a fish!

as marvelous as her own—


Imogen dipped her bucket into the river

in the new fish swam. When she poured

the new water in went the fish into the tank.


The fish circled the fish. Imogen gasped in wonder—

One was light! One dark!

One would always be light,

one would always be dark.


And for a time, her delight doubled.


Are there light fish? Dark fish?

Lighter, lightest?

Darker, darkest?


Across the field.

In her eyes in the river, fish.

Imogen dipped her bucket into the water.


When she poured the new fish in the tank,



What other fish? Fourth, blue-green.


Another fish, yellow;

red-yellow fish red.

Blue fish made the blue-green green.


Brown fish, purple fish, pink fish, orange fish.

One gray fish.


Imogen had all the fundamental fish:

Gray, orange, pink,

brown, purple, blue,

green, yellow, red,

white, black.


The gray fish was all over grayish,

red every reddish, pink pinkish.


Imogen was.

All of these forms in her tank and Imogen.


Up the hill

down the hill

over the field

down the river

across the river

along the bank

up the meadow

down through the glade

and up went her bucket

and over the dunes

and down by the sands to the sea.


There were fish, like her fish.

For a time, it was enough to—there—


She did not see,


This was what she had not known she wanted.


Dunes Glade Meadow Bank Meadow Bank River Glade Dun Glad Back Tan


The water made room for an octopus.


It was not gray,

not orange, not pink,

purple, brown,

blue, green, yellow, red,

white, black.


Slid on and off the octopus,


all color, no color.


The fish refracted.

The octopus brooded.


One morning the gray fish,

not grayish but gone.


Orange fish, gone.

Pink fish, purplish, gone.


Brown gone,

Watched the octopus by watching around it.


One by one, one by one fewer colors.

Fewer and fewer, but there,

there, no more octopus.


Blue fish gone—

green and yellow and red.



Yellow. Red.

And all the light in one of the fish

and all the dark in the other.


Imogen looked at one fish, looked at the other—

No other—


There was one fish in the tank. When it swam

in her face in the glass—what a marvelous fish.

Imogen watched it in unnamed colors.