A few evenings later we had a late-season snowfall. All night
the snow quietly loosed itself in the street lights. Next morning I
got up earlier than usual. The snow was still falling, aimless and
unhurried. In the park it coated the trails like poured cream.
I paused before the ash. Heavy flakes wobbled to the birth-
wrinkled leaves where they lit and went clear. Some touched the
fish, cooling him, and made a place for snow to pile. Standing in
that misplaced Christmas air, I was whelmed by an insight that
turned tumblers in the deepest part of me. Indeed, it changed
everything between me and the fish. I saw now that my strange
companion was no carp at all. His home was not some pond
among raked pebbles, but rather an ocean whose edges had long
ago wandered away to form other oceans. I stepped from the trail
into the fresh snow and smote my gloves together.
“A coelacanth!” I said.
WHEN I WAS FIVE YEARS OLD, I received a starter set of the
evocatively titled, The Golden Book Encyclopedia of Natural Science. I adored those four colorful books. Since my parents never
added to the collection, I focused all of my attention on the con-
Pomp and Circumstance, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, 2011.