Abandonarium by Stacey Balkun

Tomorrow, a warm hand will reach in,
stir the waters to bury fake roots

of a plastic plant. This is a gift from family,
meant to calm, to make this

abandonarium your own,  and give you
a place to hide when they put their flat noses
to the tank.

+++++++++++Relax, it’s because they think
they know you, love you.

They call you a “he” and you hate it.

Sometimes you have air. You can almost see
out the kitchen window. The coral carpet

is like one thousand silent teeth,
it cuts your new feet, arches still soft
as fins.

+++++Once, when cleaning,
they dropped you
into the kitchen sink where you billowed

against the garbage disposal
blades, still and dull, but they rescued you

more from a sense of guilt than love.

They must know it. They shrug and buy
a tiny fish net. Now there’s a tool
for capture.

++++++++In the abandonarium,

they feed you one pinch in mornings.
Afternoons, a child taps on the glass, flushes
the toilet while you’re in the shower.  See

that sunshine reflecting off water’s edge?
Perfect flatness, taut across the round
glass bowl?

+++++Your little pink palace is broken,

but you’ve never seen another so you don’t
don’t better. And when it’s your birthday,
they smile and nudge each other and all go out

to the bar, leaving the radio on to keep you
company—too close to the bowl, rattling your gills.


Stacey Balkun received her MFA from Fresno State and her work has appeared or will appear in Muzzle, Los Angeles Review, THRUSH, Bodega, The Feminist Wire, and others. She is a contributing writer for The California Journal of Women Writers at http://www.tcjww.org. In 2013, she served as Artist-in-Residence at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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