A smell of ammonia or aluminum
and you’re here.
You’ve entered at the side door.

The place seems beaten with a mallet.
A cathedral fish
with weeping gills loiters

among bright things stuck in ice.
And the young person you had been
blinks at a table.

What have we learned since we sat
in just that position, leaning forward?
Now we know enough to leave?

Just saying so can’t make that woman
stand from the table,
sick of betraying herself or anyone.

Tell her what we can.
The past is a fish
that cannot swim.

It is mounted on a wall
above a woman’s head.
She does not have to admire it.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Lee Upton's poem The Fish House

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