The goldfish in my bowl
turns into a carp each night.
Swimming in circles in the day,
regal, admired by emperors,
but each night, while I sleep,
it turns into silver, a dagger
cold and sharp, couched at one spot,
enough to frighten cats.
 
The rest of the furniture
squats in the cold and dark,
complains of being a lone man’s
furnishings, and plots a revolt.
I can hear myself snore, but not
their infidelity. Sometimes I wake
with a start; silently they move back
into their places.
 
I have been unpopular with myself,
pacing in my small, square room.
But my uncle said, “Even in a palace,
you can but sleep in one room.”
With this I become humble as a simple
preacher, saying, “I have no powers;
they emanate from God.”
With this I sleep soundly,
 
Fish or no fish, dagger or no dagger.
When I wake, my fish is gold,
it pleases me with a trail of bubbles.
My furniture has been loyal all night,
waiting to provide me comfort.
There was no conspiracy against a poor man.
With this I consider myself king.

  • Koon Woon, "Goldfish" from Water Chasing Water.  Copyright © 2013 by Koon Woon.  Reprinted by permission of Kaya Press.

  • Source: Water Chasing Water (Kaya Press, 2013)

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