Love Note of the Fish

Their teeth are like ours as they jump through the air
invasive but no one cared about Asian carp brought here
to tame plants, algae, snails.

Immaculate, their dark skins shine against the big river’s waves
innocent of any crime as they escape containment
funnel into more rivers, influence the aquatic.

Grass carp Silver carp

Should we hold a vigil for the name change?
As if taking the word “Asian” out will turn the song brighter
from its deep rumble.

Bighead carp Black carp

In our streets, Asians are run over, gunned down, smacked, screamed all the names
windows broken, doors painted red, blame assigned for Covid
carried from the East.

Tell me, what should they do with their precious lives?

Common carp Crucian carp

We are the invasive species, came here in waves, came before the fish
before hate on hate.

Yet how did we come so far from a song of long ago, where a man far away
sent home a pair of carp. When opened to cook, his wife found a silk strip
carrying a love note like a forget-me-not.

About the Poem

In the San Francisco Bay Area, where I live, we have seen Asian hate crimes escalated. I found the article troubling because while the fish are being renamed “invasive” instead of “Asian” carp, invasive is no less xenophobic. I had to contain myself to focus on particular aspect/aspects because the article was far-reaching.

About the Author

Laurel Benjamin is a San Francisco Bay Area native and enjoys the multi-culture of her neighbors, friends, and college students, the very diversity that has been threatened in recent years. In her childhood in the Richmond neighborhood, not only was her’s the only white family but the only Jewish one. She enjoys the local arts scene and museums, as well as her cats.

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