Fishy

Christmas fern

What might it mean to dream of catfish? They lived in burrows like prairie dogs, whiskered heads popping up as we walked past. “The ground was too saturated to plant this year,” the farmer said, “so I switched to fish.” The small ones were red, and the big ones were bluish gray. They watched us with what I imagined was deep suspicion, but it might just as well have been melancholy, or a blithe lack of concern. “You can watch ’em all day, and you’ll never see ’em blink,” the farmer said.

*

The other night, talking about politicians, my mother said, “I don’t know how they can look themselves in the face.” It was, dare I say, a quote worthy of the president she so despises.

But perhaps the truly gifted ones do manage that. I think Bill Clinton, for example, sees Bill Clinton in everyone he meets. That’s why he always looks so happy in a crowd.

Whereas his successor sees a potential mob: unreadable, as he is to himself. “There’s no cave deep enough for America, or dark enough to hide,” he babbles. “I know the human being and fish can coexist.”

*

There’s a certain period every day around mid-morning when the squirrels run back and forth across the roof. I sit trying to type while claws rattle overhead.

At least, I think it’s squirrels. Maybe it’s another typist. It must be a pretty dull story, though, if I’m in it.
__________

See also All Persons Visiting the Whale, at Heraclitean Fire.

12 Comments


  1. Well, you were born under the sign of the fish. ;-)

    Maybe your mother just left off the “…in the mirror” part of that. Funny about Clinton, though. You may be right about that. At least he demonstrated an ability to listen to others whereas our present president wants his own decisions aped back at him and no dissent.

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  2. Maybe your mother just left off the “…in the mirror� part of that.
    Of course. And she corrected herself a moment later. But I liked the way it came out the first time!

    Yes, Clinton is a good listener, judging from all I’ve read about him. But somehow that didn’t make the U.S. under his direction any less of an international bully, just a slightly less stupid one than under Bush.

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  3. lots of smiling here, so long and thanks for the fish….I was trying to link your typing and seeing yourself in your stories to Clinton seeing himself in everyones face….. its on the tip of my tongue, like your mothers thought, but at least she could partially articulate it, I on the other hand seem brain dead to grasp it…either way, your reflections are never boring!

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  4. CadyMay – Glad you liked. One of the great things about having a background in poetry is that one feels liberated from the necessity of always making perfect sense.

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  5. The story you’re in has a kind of laid-back country pace, lots of layers, and has to be read attentively. Dull? No.

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  6. I had a catfish dream:

    Some companions and I were driving a big old Buick or something like over a low brick causeway across a large muddy lake. Old men in flat bottom boats were running trotlines alongside the causeway. For no particular reason we parked on the causeway and joined in on the harvest. When we pulled the lines up out of the water what we found on the hooks were not fish, but catfish men, sort of catfish golems, whose limbs were still forming as we pulled them unresisting onto the dock. There were old clothes in the trunk of the car which we matched to their frames as best we could–they ranged in size from about two and a half to six and a half feet. Then we would send them toddling or shambling on their way.

    Plato wrote:

    “The supreme misery of a tyrant is that he has to be master of others when is he is not master of himself.”

    Republic, Book IX

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  7. Great comment! Both for the dream, and for the quote.

    It did occur to me about my own dream that a very obvious Freudian interpretation might (for once) make sense. That’s less clear for yours, though. It seems like the sort of thing one might dream after prolonged exposure to The Origin of Species.

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  8. Well…I did read the entire contents of the facsimile of the notebook Darwin kept circa 1837 (was it?) after he returned to England after sailing ’round the world in the Beagle, and was cogitating on the problem–He really sussed out the idea of natural selection while studying at the British Library in London–reading Malthus and all that.

    But that was back in ’92 when I was riding a 4 hammer manic high–I checked out 60 or 70 books on evolutionary biology, physics, and what not from the Denver Public Library and accumulated a 350 dollar library fine. I had this idea for a grand unification theory, you see…those were the days, my friend…but the catfish dream is much more recent.

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  9. just wanted to express my enjoyment of this post–the photo, the meditations, the comments. thanks!

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    1. Hey, glad you’re finding some worthwhile stuff in the archives. I forgot about this one. I almost remember that dream about the catfish.

      Reply

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