Misconnection

Keepers at Tokyo’s Sumida Aquarium, which has been closed since 1 March due to the coronavirus pandemic, are asking people to call in for a sub-aqua video chat and remind the eels that humans are friendly. -BBC Newsbeat

In the end the idea of Facetiming the eels
held more delight than actually
Facetiming the eels because
once I got through to them, and it took
a while for my turn, I didn’t know
what to say. Such a big responsibility
to remind those shy squiggles, willowy
those licorice whips, pencil-thick
and frond those empty kite strings
drifting in their tanks,
that humans are a friendly bunch,
especially when, as it turns out,
we aren’t, certainly not
to them who, in their natural
warming habitat, are umbrellaed beneath
a floating island of our plastic trash.
How could I explain anything
to those swaying captives, my face
hovering from a suspended iPad, no body
to speak of above the grains of sand from which
the eels unspooled themselves, lengthening
and leaning toward the screen.
I arranged my face to be happy
to see them, or at least neutral, nothing
to fear, and I gestured a little, threw
up my hands to say Yeah, me too, I get it, this
is weird
. Mostly we just stared.
            Am I frozen?
                        Can you see me?
until it seemed we had said all there was
to say. I didn’t promise to call back
and instead imagined
their tiny frowns lifting just a bit
as we argued like new lovers
at the end of a long distance call:
You hang up first.
            No, you.
                        No.
                              You.

 

 

 

 

Amanda Moore’s debut collection of poetry, Requeening, was selected for the 2020 National Poetry Series by Ocean Vuong and is forthcoming from Ecco in October 2021. Her poems have appeared in various journals and anthologies, including Best New Poets and ZZYZVA, and her essays have appeared in The Baltimore Review and Hippocampus Magazine. Poetry co-editor at Women’s Voices for Change and a reader at VIDA Review and Bull City Press, she is a high school English teacher and lives by the beach with her husband and daughter in the Outer Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco.