We transmute to the juncture of perception,
elevate to another plane for refreshment.
Here, behind the bar in the cool
a man stands empty eyed.
His stationary pose is real;
we sense a time when
he was good at pretense,
perhaps once a hybrid intellectual,
ensnared in the network
by monetary necessity
as once was common.
He speaks at us in conversation
a Ptolemaic succession and regression
meaningless but again appropriate.
"There's money in Scottsdale", he remarks,
gazing somewhere beyond our faces
as he polishes the glasses, snapping his towel
as if some particle of truth is possibly in its folds.
The night, we stroll the local city streets,
pass a fish market where I see his body
displayed full length on a bed of ice.
You disagree at first, but I am sure it's him,
sans the white shirt, the bow tie.
The gleaming silver scales -- the eyes,
has to be his torso down below.
His face is gone, his orbs oblique as death:
a collective invention, half fish, half human.
Sucked dry by too many conventional seagulls
swooping, pecking at his exposed soul.
You laugh, but I insist we purchase it --
surely a geneticist's mistake.
I persuade you to help it use its feet,
kick backward to the sea.
We hear it splash, in flash of iridescent scales
we see it rise to meet the waves,
until it vanishes from our sight.
We drink an analeptic toast
as evening fog obscures the sun.
You've had your martini
and I, my Merlot.
An intellectual loss --
he's paid the penance,
and we've successfully
opposed the myth.
Copyright © 2001 Margaret B. Simon
Margaret B. Simon teaches art in Florida and freelances as a writer-poet-illustrator for genre and mainstream publications such as The Edge, Extremes, The Urbanite, Tomorrow Magazine of Speculative Fiction, Space & Time, Palace Corbie, Frisson, Edgar, Dark Regions, Fantasy Magazine, Millennium, EOTU, Tales of the Unanticipated, The Magazine of Speculative Poetry, and the anthologies, High Fantastic and Nebula Anthology 32. She is former president of the SF Poetry Association, edits a column for the HWA Newsletter, "Blood & Spades: Poets of the Dark Side," is HWA Membership Chairman, and contributes a column to Scavenger's Newsletter, "The Art Bin." Currently you can view her work at EOTU and Visions. She is the illustrator for the EXTREMES 2 CD-ROM collection. Marge's previous appearance in Strange Horizons was "A Tale of Collaboration."