The Biologist, the Poet and the Silverfish

On my first ever date, he romances me
not with poems but with talk of nocturnal dry-land fish,
how they glide and skitter like mercurial swimmers
and grace the damp of his bedsit grime.
Like them, he has grown addicted to the dark
and now must inhabit a silverfish, thorax and soul.

On our next date, I bring sweet wine
and an electron micrograph of a silverfish head.
He won’t look. Tell me, he says, what do you see?
Bulging metallic segments of a Michelin man,
I say, covered with neat scales of overlapping scallop shells
with thinned bristles like an old bottle brush.
More, he sighs, show me with words.
Its head, I continue, has hypnotic batch-baked eyes,
long antennae, arced like palm tree trunks.
It sports an unkempt moustache
on both lips, lips some silver Goddess has kissed.
He kisses me, all the time
repeating my words, mining their usefulness.
He is urgently, ardently, argently in love
with the silverfish.

On our third date, I cook pasta
and have facts that will make him want me.
They live on carbohydrates, I say, the sweetness
of skin, scattered flakes of keratin.
We spend the night in a sea of quilts,
dry-bedding in his crusty blue plastic bath,
it creaks and shifts with our too many limbs.
He calls me his Saccharina, licks me wet,
his stubble brushing my softest flesh.
We wait for dusk and the street-light moon
to entice the silverfish from damp crevices.
They may not come, I say, they go months without eating.
His antennae quiver. With no hunger, he cries,
what art they must make, what philosophers they must be!
He vows to throw away his meagre possessions
and live off the lavish detritus of the world.
I offer a dark bed, a lifetime’s confetti of me.



 Ginny Saunders lives in Wiltshire where she writes prose and poetry. She has previously had poems published in Magma, Antiphon, Bangor Literary Journal and And Other Poems.