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The Fish - 2
Gagan Gill

It's not water
But the sky
Which has filled the brain of this fish.

Not water,
But a longing to fly,
Has filled the body of this fish.

She has been emptying herself
Into the sea
For centuries, endlessly.

Swimming past fish, large and small
Rapt in thought
This fish asks herself
Say, your sea, where has it gone?

Swimming, this fish
Repeats the question,
As if it were a prayer or mantra.
She doesn't know, this fish
That the sky has filled her brain
That the skull-breaking rites*
Have already begun
Within herself.

Translated from the Hindi by J. P. Das, Madhu B. Joshi, and Arlene Zide.

*The skull of a dead person on the funeral pyre is cracked in order to allow the soul to escape.