Monday, March 18, 2013

The Inscrutable Brilliance of One Person

     The big fish didn't like hooks,
Rusty barbs in the bellies
Of bright, hyperbolic flies.
The big fish didn't like tricks,
Didn't like being sneered at,
Mistaken for stupid, slick
As snot but dumb as the weeds
That sheltered him in his stealth.

The big fish wanted a name,
A name, not a description.
But the only name he knew
Was the name of his rival
And tormentor, the wily,
Wit-soaked, fat-lunged fishing thing
That baited him. So he asked
To be called by the closest
Thing to a truth and a name
He could lisp without choking,
"One Person." That suited him.
He preferred to be alone.

When I tried contacting him,
He feigned sleep. I admired him,
So minimalist a beast,
The waves themselves bypassed him.
I was patient. I tied flies.
Of the best of these I spoke
Lovingly and crooningly,
Calling it "Parsimony,"
Repeating that name out loud
But in a whisper, as if
I hadn't meant to say it,
As if I were dreaming it
And muttered it by mistake.

The big fish rose, alertly,
Sensitive to the slight tug
Of a lovely, well-loved name.
He appeared to me no more
Than a circle in the calm,
And I, pretending to doze,
And to be in awe of him,
Of the legends concerning
Him, One Person, one brilliant,
Parsimonious person,
Muttered more and flicked the fly
Repeatedly past his lips.
The big fish rose. Once I caught
Him, I would not let him go.

Still, he moved in directions
That I would not, naturally,
Expect him to move. He was
Alien, shimmering, rare.
More than just another fish
And nothing at all like me.
If fish wore Eton collars
And spat out golden proverbs
And could spin string like spiders
Or worms, he would be such.
And yet he was more. My luck
Was to guess he could be lured
By patience and flattery,
By the exquisite profile
My substanceless shadow cast
On his cool, brooding waters.
Our interview went like this:

"No quotes," was his first request.
(I assented, ignoring
Any literal meaning.)
"You may speak to me by name,
Or, for convenience, O.P."
(A nickname! An acronym
And a pet peeve all at once!
I knew I had him then.) "Sir,"
Said I, "One Person, 'O.P.,'
If I may--Why are you, you?
From whence comes inscrutable
Brilliance like yours, given you
Are not like me?" His eyes rolled.

"Odd," he said, addressing me.
("Odd" was his prerogative.
I didn't challenge the name.)
"Odd, I like you more than most
That cross my pond to bug me.
I will humor you. Ask me
As you wish. I might answer."
Then for a while he vanished.
Even his ripples unwaved.
I cleared my throat. No response.
The profound meaning of this
Refusal to answer me directly
With anything other than silence
Was uncannily profound.
I tried again, flicked my wrist.

"Sir, OP, you never said
What you meant." (Ah, that was it.
A little jig of meaning
Brought him back to my surface,
And he bit.) "Are you," he asked,
"Any kind of satirist?"
(He god-damned nearly hauled me
Into the drink with that one.
But I recovered.) "Are you?"
He tried to swallow the thought,
And then managed to choke out
The line, "I'm not one to mock.
I arrived to randomize
What our ancestral creatures--
Persons, of course, in the case
Of you or me--said before,
In prosodies watery
And deep, so delightfully
Brackish no analogies
Apply." (I was so impressed
By his heft and his frankness
I fell back in the green shade.)

"One more question, One Person,"
I pursued once recovered
(Tying fresh flies as I spoke).
"Living under still waters
Long as you have, have you found
Truth in the adage they run
Deep?" "How do you mean?" he asked
(Warily, it seemed to me.)
"Does what's happening on land
Interest you anymore?"
Something snapped. "It never did."

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