The Human Animal We had mahi mahi for dinner tonight, which is the dolphin fish, not the mammal, but the fish four foot long and green along the surface skimming chasing the flying fish. Even the name is a lie, since dolphin means womb, and these fish don’t have one, layers of eggs, these coldblooded denizens of warm waters, trolling the vastness of the open ocean. And, yes, we ate them. The meat was sweet. I would say you could taste the ocean, but you really couldn’t. They came in the mail in a big square box, packed in ice and vegetables. That’s me, top predator, no sea too distant or danger too great, that I can’t order it, with a click. at the grocery store here we gather our hunting days are over along the rows of limes and lemons the tomatoes and celery and leaves of lettuce in plastic bags and in summer watermelons pregnant bellies huddled together and meat displayed in cold cases along aisles reminding us that we are animals here we are trudging oblivious searching sustenance young couples clutching each other’s hips women with children clinging wheedling sweets from indulgence and single men, calloused and paint splattered with single meals and beer with no basket the old people meticulous slowly choosing their pleasures meager delights afforded by a monthly check, and they move at the pace they’ve learned that life passes, and we are all here together mostly unaware as we stand in aisles in front of displays of the needs of the life the common cravings shared as we weave around each other rushed and mostly grumpy but blessed are those who are hungry and those who thirst the tired oppressed the counters of change and coupons seekers under these flickering fluorescent lights and in these refrigerated sacristies for a soul’s needs I let a young couple with a bottle of wine and cheese go ahead of me at the checkout and feel our unspoken communion and I tell the cashier that I like their purple tipped hair and music from the 70’s blares through the loudspeaker and I pay and I pray and I say thank you thank you thank you. into me I believe that things flow into me; fingers, nose, and eyes and ears, portals all, even at the mouth the essences of things bring all their riches, the peculiar tart of lemon in a tart, the musky dark of puer tea, the heat and the aroma mixed and mixing in filling my mind up with what is not me. Just the shapes of chemicals, keys that find right receptor locks in taste buds, signals axon and dendrites sparking up into this bone cased brain, but still they flow in me. I never grow tired of the simple magic it is my purpose, my function to be a ballroom floor on which the natures of things can prance and mingle. Chamomile, verbena, and lavender; bergamot, mint, and rose; mugwort and sweet fern. The world is rich with tastes and smells, and I am never more alive than when the essence of something else is filling me, home in which they can live in ways not open to themselves, embraces, lover’s tangles sensations spilling out and thrilling, tastes and tingles, life existing not alone.
About the author:
David Banach teaches philosophy in New Hampshire where he tends chickens, keeps bees, and looks for lessons in the sky. He has published poems most recently in Hooligan Magazine, Evocations Review, Last Leaves, The Liminal Review, and October Hill. He also does the Poetrycast podcast for Passengers Journal. Find him on Twitter @banach, Instagram @@zbandban and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/david.banach/