Timothy Donnelly
The Fish Ladder

To be the fish on the ladder

     and not know what it means. To feel the bronzes,

          the pearls, the greens, but in a context

               of pure combat. To fight the literal stream


we hurl ourselves into for no

     discernible purpose, other than some molecule

          says it will be worth it. To feel

               worthless enough to listen. To feel


something rather than nothing, the rungs of it

     a punishment, a goading

          into againstness, against the current. To come to know

               the concrete intimately. To come to know


what we want is. To come to know what we want is

     to be the fish on the ladder

          nonetheless. To feel the sun

               like a god we can discern. We hurl


our self into it, being for this purpose. To come to see

     what there is left to feel. To come to feel

          some other. To come to know

               what we want is. To be the fish on the ladder.







Found In Volume 51, No. 06
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Timothy Donnelly
About the Author

Timothy Donnelly is the author of the poetry collections Twenty-seven Props for a Production of Eine Lebenszeit (2003), The Cloud Corporation (2010), which won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, and The Problem of the Many (2020). His next book, Chariot, will be published by Wave Books in 2023.