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You said it would have a huge goldfish bowl

sitting right in the middle, a balloon of bubbles.

I look left, right, up, down, dig in the dusty earth,

cut my fingers on pages – no fish. I wait ages.


You don’t show. It is dry as sandpaper, this place

– you could swipe metal smooth through the air.

Outside, the south side of town is as orange and stale

as it was two years ago. My throat swells and croaks.


Be calm, this is a library. Be normal, read a book.

This is not a place for water or university loves.

I could have stuck to my own small library nook,

the kitchen and bathroom in my tiny just-me flat.


I could have doused my face cool over and over,

drunk icy glasses until my belly ached, then bed,

in the noisy north of the city where the sky is blue,

then dark with night, none of this stagnant dusk time.


I crept over the line to capture a book from before,

to reopen our years crouched below the surface.

But there are no fish here. Not gold, jelly, star, lion,

cat, witch, skate. I don’t know what to do but wait.


If I shut my eyes, maybe they will arrive: scales,

tails, bodies swirling warm and fat around my waist.

You might appear at the crux of the tides, beacon,

rescue boat, fisher. More likely, you won’t bother.


I turn to re-cross the desert of you-and-me land,

stepping forward in time to who I know I am now.

I will read and drink from my own sweet sources,

head above the water, brave and gentle as an otter.



Records for Elizabeth Gibson

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