Thursday, June 08, 2006


Silver fish swim on our kitchen floor
their motion
a suspicion
of swishing scales
of turning tides
of warm and cold air
of tails flicking
of voyages
to a subterranean depth
of space between
wall and floor.

The light fixes them
for a moment
holds them fast
-assuredly there now
like commas
or fat dashes
- holding their breath
then dissolving
with a click of a switch
back into dark
and something
less certain.

Silver fish are indicators of damp, and although we had our house damp-proofed when we moved in twenty years ago (and all the walls replastered) we still seem to have a thriving colony. Hodmandod Senior thinks this is because of the gap between our new skirting board and the floor, which gives them an ideal place to hide. I think it is just because the house is still a bit damp.

However silver fish are harmless, apparently, so we just let them be. We see them mainly when we switch on the light in the night, and it is a bit like when the music stops in that children's party game - they stop still where they are, as if by remaining motionless no one will see them.

It struck me the other evening that this behaviour reminds me of something I learnt a very long time ago - Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle - that idea that position and movement of a particle cannot be ascertained at the same time - if you know one, you can't know the other. So it is only when the light is on that I know the silver fish's position - and only when the light is off do I know that it moves.

This seems to me to be an ideal basis for a poem, so I've had a go at one for Poetry Thursday. I've been reading about this on various people's blogs now, but notably Chiefbiscuit's, Susannah's and Sarah's.


Blogger Endment said...

Wonderful images!
You make me take a very different look at "silver fish"

Thu Jun 08, 12:02:00 pm  
Blogger Jim Brock said...

I really go for poems that inhabit a deep philosophical idea, and plays it all out with imagery, definiteness and indefiniteness. Thank you, and welcome!

Thu Jun 08, 02:58:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you! You're all most kind. I'm just going off to look now, at everyone else's.

Thu Jun 08, 08:37:00 pm  
Blogger White Square said...

Deep, philosophical and very insightful!

Fri Jun 09, 02:56:00 pm  
Blogger Tammy Brierly said...

Welcome! Your poem was spectacular! You have a gift if you can write this way about "silver fish"

Fri Jun 09, 04:15:00 pm  
Blogger Kay Cooke said...

Clare! Write more poetry!!! This is just so good!

Sat Jun 10, 03:10:00 am  
Blogger AYDIN ÖRSTAN said...

Silverfish do eat stuff, by the way. Either the paper of the books or the glue that holds them.

Sat Jun 10, 09:22:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, again - think you're kind - been looking around Poetry Thursday and there's a lot of talent out there...

And Aörstan - thank you for the warning. The only books we have in the kitchen have my cookery ones - not great treasures, fortunately, and I should think very nourishing for silver fish! I am a very messy cook.

Sat Jun 10, 11:33:00 pm  

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