A Display of Mackerel
--Mark Doty 
They lie in parallel rows,
on ice, head to tail,
each a foot of luminosity 
barred with black bands,
which divide the scales'
radiant sections 
like seams of lead
in a Tiffany window.
Iridescent, watery 
prismatics: think abalone,
the wildly rainbowed
mirror of a soapbubble sphere, 
think sun on gasoline.
Splendor, and splendor,
and not a one in any way 
distinguished from the other
--nothing about them
of individuality. Instead 
they're all exact expressions
of one soul,
each a perfect fulfillment 
of heaven's template,
mackerel essence. As if,
after a lifetime arriving 
at this enameling, the jeweler's
made uncountable examples,
each as intricate 
in its oily fabulation
as the one before.
Suppose we could iridesce, 
like these, and lose ourselves
entirely in the universe
of shimmer--would you want 
to be yourself only,
unduplicatable, doomed
to be lost? They'd prefer, 
plainly, to be flashing participants,
multitudinous. Even now
they seem to be bolting 
forward, heedless of stasis.
They don't care they're dead
and nearly frozen, 
just as, presumably,
they didn't care that they were living:
all, all for all, 
the rainbowed school
and its acres of brilliant classrooms,
in which no verb is singular, 
or every one is. How happy they seem,
even on ice, to be together, selfless,
which is the price of gleaming.

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