The aquarium's tapestry of colour and light



the jelly fish are fringed silk shawls
floating on a breeze or pulsing like parasols
adrift on puffs of water wind
the anemones are embroidery samplers
lavish and complex with every stitch
a living illustration
fancy work in torus shapes of finest silk and satin
with daisy chains of white crochet
like collars worn by rich Elizabethans
lace and velvet tucked and pleated pastel-coloured
with tufted pennant tendrils trailing undulating
in the slow surge the ebb and flow of zephyrs
the coral is not calcified not brittle hard as bone
but tender flesh with swelling bulges
of throbbing tissue rucked and ruched
or bunches and bunches of bubbles like grapes
dense drupes of transparent fruits
that swell and sway in a rhythm like breathing
the prettiest fish are fabric for blouses made of silk
in white and black and beige and palest green
the patterns subtle vivid clean
anapainna of the Amazon is carved of solid silver
its head a sculpture all engraved
with ancient calligraphics
its long body is a space ship
tracing a slow course through thick space
gliding past stars suspended in time-warp density
the sea-horses drift with tails straight stiff
until touching a stem makes them curl and grip
the way that babies make a fist
tethered by their tails they float inflexible as wood
little statues carved in curves
like idols from far-off foreign temples
in a world where all is silent

The Lights
I was born remembering a place
Where friends were love, clear lights who shared my mind.
On Earth I searched and searched but couldn't find
Them anywhere. I loathed the human race
Who’d stolen me from home, and studied space,
The outer realms where galaxies unwind
Throughout the blackness, and the inner kind
Where worlds can come and go without a trace.
I once believed that darkness was the rule,
And that the lights were few and far between.
But facts are facts — the black is only seen
Because the lights are there. What sort of fool
Would close their eyes on all that's warm and bright,
In protest at the loneliness of night?


Edith Speers is a Canadian born poet, teacher, editor and publisher who manages Esperance Press in Dover, Tasmania.

Aquarium image by Shutterstock.

Topic tags: Edith Speers.modern Australian poetry



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Existing comments

More, please! Edith Speers' two poems, Aquarium and The Lights, are the best poems I've read in Eureka Street for many a long year. I was fortunate enough earlier this year to visit the Osaka Aquarium. The guiding principle of this aquarium is based on 'The Gaia hypothesis' advocated by British scientist James Lovelock. He proposes that 'all organisms and their inorganic surroundings on Earth are closely integrated to form a single and self-regulating complex system'. Edith's poems helped me re-live the emotional and spiritual experiences I had as I walked through the glass tunnels of the Osaka Aquarium with fish of every kind swimming around, over and below me. Edith has a rare gift.

Uncle Pat | 15 September 2015  

Just a small correction: it was Lynn Margulis (the first Mrs Carl Sagan) who provided the SCIENCE upon which James Lovelock put forward the Gaia model.

Anita Joy | 16 September 2015  

For Anita Joy: thank you for the correction - Lynn Margulis.

Uncle Pat | 17 September 2015  

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