Koi Pond, Oakland Museum
by Susan Kolodny
Our shadows bring them from the shadows:
a yolk-yellow one with a navy pattern
like a Japanese woodblock print of fish scales.
A fat 18-karat one splashed with gaudy purple
and a patch of gray. One with a gold head,
a body skim-milk-white, trailing ventral fins
like half-folded fans of lace.
A poppy-red, faintly disheveled one,
and one, compact, all indigo in faint green water.
They wear comical whiskers and gather beneath us
as we lean on the cement railing
in indecisive late-December light,
and because we do not feed them, they pass,
then they loop and circle back. Loop and circle. Loop.
“Look,” you say, “beneath them.” Beneath them,
like a subplot or a motive, is a school
of uniformly dark ones, smaller, unadorned,
perhaps another species, living in the shadow
of the gold, purple, yellow, indigo, and white,
seeking the mired roots and dusky grasses,
unliveried, the quieter beneath the quiet.
IMAGE: Koi pond, watercolor by Inspired Images, used by permission.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Kolodny is a recently retired psychoanalyst and teacher. She is the author of two volumes of poetry, Preserve and After the Firestorm. Her poems have appeared in New England Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, and in many other journals and several anthologies and have been featured on American Life in Poetry, Poetry Daily, and the Poetry Foundation’s Poem of the Day. She has an MFA from The Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. She is Member and Faculty at the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis where she founded and chairs the program, Poetry and Psychoanalysis. Visit her at susankolodny.com.
NOTE: The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) opened in 1969, bringing together three historically independent disciplines—art, history, and natural sciences—under one roof. This progressive multidisciplinary approach was to celebrate the many facets of California. The museum’s collections—comprising more than 1.9 million objects including seminal art works, historical artifacts, ethnographic objects, natural specimens, and photographs—and programs explore and reveal the factors that shape California character and identity, from its extraordinary natural landscapes, to successive waves of migration, to its unique culture of creativity and innovation.