at the very bottom of the lake
are probably millions of fish skeletons
well, unless they’ve already decomposed in the water
but i prefer to imagine

that millions of fish skeletons
are sitting right now
at the very bottom of our lake
with their mouths open like
they were frozen right in the middle
of a very long important speech

and some of their mouths
still even have hook holes in them
from all the times the fish made off with the bait
or were caught and thrown back for not
being the right size of catch
or just being a real life fish
and surprising a little girl
who thought this was all
part of some silly game

and I imagine that the waves pass
through their ribs and it looks like
they’re still breathing
just like they used to
well, if the fish ever breathed like that at all

and if you reached down and held one of them
-not that I would ever do such a thing
in all honestly, I don’t know how to swim-
but if you held one of them, well these skeletons
i mean, you could imagine exactly

what the fish would have felt like
smelled like looked like
swimming down there
with all the rest of the fish
and doing whatever fish do, or what they did.

I don’t know.

I mean, even if the bones are just sitting there
having forgotten how to do anything
except for be useless and heavy and stupid
that’d be sad but it’d be okay 
as long as there are still some bones left
and they still look sorta like the fish used to

cause what would be the point
if they’re all gone
and its just plain old empty water

©2023 Niall Cunningham