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Silent glissandos of bubbles swishing around marine creatures,
silhouettes beguiling the cool ocean lair of fluorescent colors
that blinds with sweeping currents. I swallow the chewing gum,
hard brass pennies scoring an indentation in a cupped finger.
Now, in these corridors of glass, hidden worlds behind them,
lunar notes trickle down liquid scales. They are faraway
galaxies . . . Other music, pulse of movement, plays behind
that sheet of glass. The aquarium is a living organism,
fluxing and developing its body, dissolving as fish
and sharks gaze at the iridescent-bright corals. In mounting
dances of being, we take photos. A gentle babble, chatter
amongst us. I say that the shark with its fin
is leering at me. They leer and laugh at me in turn.

The reflection of the glass mirrors and magnifies their separate
joys. What, what must they think while the world outside
drowns in rain, tinkling musically on tin roofs? Our dog
came up to us, bedraggled after a long night of chasing cats,
the shimmering frenzy of quarks and atoms on his
straw-laden hair. And this afternoon, fog
engulfs our town with its dark childless reign.
We escaped to this aquarium for less water
but find plenty more in the flow of aquamarine.
Earth’s sap is unknown to them, prehistoric creatures
alive since the dawn of time, now reduced to specks in
water, gushed by man. We have lost our dreaming and our
naïve believing that we could control nature—not harmony,
a peaceful coexistence and thriving on this vast land—
but loggers and poachers and thieves that reduce the majesty
of these paperbark trees and tall blue mountains, spires
reaching up, up to the clouds, and animals all thriving in seas,
knowing the barrier between life and survival, now trapped
with their pleading eyes and hollow, voiceless cry,
grasping at a sort of eternity. Their hearts will forever
be lifeless, never undergoing metamorphosis.

Cameras flash, SNAP! SNAP! Visceral yet ethereal,
those lights dance around the aquarium, a portal to their dimension,
a celestial, bewitching world of ocean’s priestly rule. Back home,
that aura of magic, that solid elemental vitality,
still pulses through me. Gripping my pen, I write:
Silent glissandos of bubbles swirling around marine creatures . . .

Amber Zhao
Amber Zhao, 10
Brisbane, Australia