Fish Grin


Blue fish grins.
His scales gleam with
labyrinthine markings.
Perhaps lady fish
get lost, tracing their
path through the bends.
His charm bewilders
and intrigues, and we stare
at each other through
the ocean tank glass.
Close, but not connecting.
Near, but breathing
different elements.
Each puzzled by the other.
His liquid gaze and citrine eye
as mysterious and fleeting
as a golden leaf on a tree.
What does the leaf remember,
hanging there for one last day?
What does the fish see?
A swish of his tail and
he’s gone. A cypher,
a code of the universe,
a mystery to contemplate.

Copyright 2015 Brenda Davis Harsham

Note: I’m surrounded by swirls of wrapping paper, twinkling lights and the smell of brownies. I’m planning to make brownie Christmas tree cookies. If they turn out well, I’ll put up a picture. And my husband just bought girl scout cookies. I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!

The Moon and the Pooka

Zelda knew the shore was forbidden to her. She clomped through sand in her big brother’s boots. He’d be mad if he knew she’d borrowed them. She wanted to catch a wild pony. Her brother had a pony, and she didn’t. The pony dodged her, black withers gleaming. He kicked up his heels in the surf. She chased him, but he was too quick. She fell as he fled, tossing his head, mane flying.

Zelda somersaulted, and a current carried her to the deep. She sank past brain coral and seaweed. She struggled with the heavy boots that dragged her down toward spiky sea urchin. Light lay above her like a glass table, as if she’d hit her head on it and never breathe air again. She finally kicked off a boot, and stopped sinking. Her fingers bled from pulling at the remaining laces, pinking the water.

Her lungs ached, and part of her wanted to breathe so badly she was tempted to take water into her lungs. She blew out bubbles, and her panic rose with them. Then the moon swam past her, slow and solemn. He didn’t glance her way, but the second boot slipped free. She rose with the bubbles toward that window of light.


Her head broke free, and she gulped air. She was far from shore. She swam until her arms felt like stone. Her legs were icy, and her teeth chattered. The pony returned to the shore, distant and dark as if fashioned of night sky. The surf flecked his mane with stars. He plunged into the sea.

Zelda weakened. A wave crashed over her, and she slipped under the glass table. The light receded. Then the smooth glass broke into shards of sky and ocean. The pony’s legs kicked above her. With her last strength, she reached for his streaming tail and held tight. When her feet touched sand, she stumbled behind the pony’s back to shore. She dropped to her knees and coughed up sea water.

“Foolish girl!” The pony spoke in a high, mocking voice. Its golden eyes rolled, glinting red at the edges. “Don’t chase the pooka, or you will find your way to the spirit world.”

Tears streamed from Zelda’s eyes, stinging with salt. Sighting a pooka was rare and dangerous. She wondered why he had saved her as she watched him race away. His hooves left no prints in the sand. She remembered the moon, swimming in the deep. And she realized she had lost her brother’s boots.

Copyright 2015 Brenda Davis Harsham

Note: A pooka is a fae spirit of Irish mythology. Often it takes the shape of a dog, a bird, or a horse, and it can be dangerous or a portent of doom.

The Talking Fish and the Pirate Key

Photograph 2013 by K. Harsham entitled Rock and Water

Photograph 2013 by K. Harsham

One summer day, Collin went to stay with his cousin, Russell, who was thirteen. Colin was four years old (practically full-grown!). Together, they had an adventure involving a river, a key and a talking fish.

They bellied down on big rocks by the Bass River. They held their hands very still in the water, hoping a fish would swim into them. Collin’s hands got very cold, and he fidgeted. Russell was still as stone. A large fish swam into Russell’s hands. He moved like lightning, and he threw the fish onto the riverbank.

“Let me go! I can’t breathe!” the fish exclaimed, its mouth gasping and its brown speckled sides heaving.

Russell was startled and fell into the water, shouting: “It talks!” He stood up, hair dripping.

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