The Cleaner Fish and the Dust Mite (poem)

Posted by ractrose on 30 Dec 2019 in Art, Poems

Pastel drawing of dust mite surveying carpet landscape




The Cleaner Fish and the Dust Mite


What have I done

My ugly skin did not kill

Your friend…you say, she was a goldfish worthy

Of all praise

Before the cat got her

Well (the cleaner fish says)

Good goldfish may also be kind

My mal-cast eyes, which, with respect, you call attention to

Unsuit you also

But while I, the only fish who works, am hated and unthanked…

At this, derisive jets of water from the castle

Drive the cleaner fish’s nose into the gravel

Raising a cloud of waste as he suckers his way

To the farthest corner

Of the tank


Know me

Look through the prism view

See how your fragile walls

Your world encased in glass

Magnify the room…perhaps

You, who pity yourself may see

Beneath you, the lowliest of the lowly 


Fish, I am a dust mite

I live among thousands of my kin

You work, and I work

We, who live on crumbs, can do no other

Today we live, and tomorrow…

Ah, let me tell you of my sorrow



Falling like manna from heaven

Into the wilderness of the carpet fiber

Fish, do they miss a flake, when they have so much?

We were all there, gleaning

When the firmament was blotted

by a monstrous beast of portent

Down it came

With movement serpentine and strange

Its eyes…we thought it stared through a hundred eyes

But from this black array

Never blinking rolled white-hot

The steam

That humans so vast in size

Might feel clean

O my people!

O my people!


My limbs are shriveled and I stand alone




The Cleaner Fish and the Dust Mite

Photo of tree with cyclops faceI Will Inform You















(2019, Stephanie Foster)




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