FORGETFUL GOD by Charles Harper Webb

/ / Issue 15

 “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.”
                —Luke 12:6

      Night’s dark cadenza fades. To wild
              applause of birds, the moon’s cornet-
                      bell ducks behind the blue

      curtain of dawn. Now, from cracks
              and pools that waves have gouged
                      into pahoehoe, hermit crabs drag

      scavenged shells after the retreating tide.
              Gray-barred doves ocarina soft alarms.
                      From green palm trees, yellow finches

      screech, “Retreat!” Yet, in a round breach
              in the black rock, one small orange fish
                      delays too long. Trapped

      in a pool that slinks away as daylight’s
              hard, hot hand slams down, it’s just
                      a fish: no plans or projects

      left undone; no friends or family
              who will mourn. Still, it fears to feel
                      its circuits short out, its liquid

      rhythms quit. Like the prayers of a rocked
              boxer, trainer shouting words
                      that he can’t understand, the fish

      zips back and forth across the ring—
              enormous once; now closing in.
                      Flashing side to side, flipping

      through the air, the fish finds only
              that all escape-routes end. No life-line
                      opens to the sea six feet away,

      its gray chop bluing in the sun,
              its surface surging up and down,
                      forward and back.