I hear the same bird from every window. How kind of the world
to sing the songs
it sang when I was a child. How kind of windows
to open, how kind of God
to look in on me this morning,
to kneel beside my little life
the way I used to kneel beside my childhood tank
pretending I was gliding
among my badly-cared-for fish,
wondering if they saw me, whether they noticed
the gold doubloons that never stopped spilling
from their plastic treasure chest?
Like God, I longed for a theory of mind
that could unite me with my creatures.
Like my fish, I could never tell
if anyone was watching
through the glass
I noticed only when I tried to swim
beyond my own reflection.
When I thought of them again,
days later, one was always dead.
I'd scoop out the body
with a dripping net –
unclosed eyes, shining scales –
and flush them down the toilet.
Joy Ladin, Gottesman Professor of English at Yeshiva University, has published six books of poetry, including Forward Fives award winner Coming to Life and Lambda Literary Award finalist Transmigration; her seventh collection, Impersonation, is due out in 2015. Her memoir of gender transition, Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders, was a 2012 National Jewish Book Award finalist,and she has also published a study of American poetry, Soldering the Abyss: Emily Dickinson and Modern American Poetry. Her work has appeared in many periodicals, including American Poetry Review, Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, Parnassus: Poetry in Review, Southwest Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and North American Review, and has been recognized with a Fulbright Scholarship.