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The plecostomus*

Dark where the dark is deepest, stone-still,

the plecostomus keeps to the dark

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even so. Grazing the green-algaed rocks

at night, feeding, he swims past catfish -

indolent, swayed by the rhythm of cool springs.

He raises his antique fin in warning.

Look at me, shadow. Old bone back. Do

you know that place where the slowing flow

settles? Do you know river crevices

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along the reed breaks? Among the dead leaves

now, he turns, a faint spark of black,

then dimmed to brown. That chasm within

the eye, is it a challenge, an accusation?

The plecostomus tastes the shapes of stones.

* The Plecostomus is an algae-eating bony catfish originally from South America.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society