Start with a fish,
a tuna. No an anchovy.
A small, herringlike marine fish
of the family Engraulidae,
a European fish (Engraulis encrasicholus),
widely used in appetizers and various dishes.
As in pizza, hold the anchovies.
It doesn’t matter. Start with an anchovy
as your objective correlative,
already an oxymoron. Add
the ocean, once its residence,
now a mere background,
only to be used to ask questions
like is it possible to see the water
we’re swimming in when we are
swimming in it? Then, correlative to what?
Does anyone keep the anchovies
when ordering a pizza with everything on it?
Usually geeks or nerds, maybe. I mean,
how do anchovies complement
the other ingredients on the cheese?
You’re looking very fine tonight, Olive?
Add a story to the fish, the anchovy,
the vast ocean, a woman sitting
at the typewriter, the pizza,
maybe a handsome delivery boy
on a bicycle whistling up at an open
window by the backyard gate, maybe
a mysterious telegram. Explain then
how they are all connected; detach
yourself from the more comic elements
and slide over into the deeper
ocean of feeling that seems
to hover over the woman at the desk .
Is she sad? Why do her eyes
keep straying to the window?
Add a daughter upstairs.
Is she looking out the window as well?
Now the telegram crinkled up in her fist
is on the floor, only a few black letters
still showing—ied, ednes ght at 3 m.
Come soon. Of course, that explains
the boy outside, not his curiosity.
The girl upstairs is not looking
out the window, but staring in the mirror
one hand holding a brush, frozen fingers
curled around the handle, talking to herself
in a low voice. Downstairs, the woman
at the typewriter listens carefully, tries
to interpret some of the words,
waits for inspiration or a reason.
It was not what she first thought:
that day twenty years ago near
the ocean, Biloxi, Miss., walking
on the beach, seeing the boy
for the first time.
His hair and smile, eyes the same
color of the sea in front of them,
their first date at the Pizza parlor,
his love of anchovies, her idea that
that he was like a fish whose ocean
she could swim in all day and all night.
Maybe it should have been a tuna,
not an anchovy. Maybe the mercy
of the blander tuna, though highly edible,
and without remorse, made a more objective
correlative than an un-interesting and
unwanted anchovy. Maybe, it was
the missing ocean or its depth that made
everything seem open, unfinished.
Add one ending, plus a strange,