I got the call in my best friend’s kitchen,
watching her mom pour crepes.
We found Goldie this morning
gasping in the sink.
The weeks I’d spent teaching her
to thrust her copper body out
through the liquid confines of her tank
for a split second before splashing down again—
a hundred guided attempts clamped gently
between my thumb and index finger.
We tried to save her—Mom moved her through the water
pumping her little gills. We were just too late. We decided to wait
'til you got home to flush her.
I hung up without speaking, walked out front,
and sat at the edge of the driveway.
Dad and I rode home in silence. I made my slow way
to the kitchen where Goldie was belly-up
in her tank. With the tiny net I fished her
out onto a paper towel—around her
a growing ring of water
There’s nothing you could’ve done.
Mom rubbed my arms as if to warm me.
For a long time I watched the white porcelain
fade to grey near the drain
and prayed she hadn’t landed in that place.