Sunday, 20 May 2012

man-woman: these are the rules

Fiona Lam "Aquarium"

seahorse migrations

falling in love with our stories as
they rise from their deep rooted places

called forth by
any little question
a chance encounter

an imagined look upon an imagined face, and
all remembered glimpses
of past times

drifting upward now—
quick & quick—
seeking the air
in droves

here the golden one
here the hungry one
here the singing one
this one, afraid

each tail has slipped it’s mooring as
sunlight calls through whispering water
urgent for redemption

craving the air &
all good things
that may happen there

deep plants remain and growing
seahorses ever hopeful

rise & rise
rise & rise
rise & rise

(c) Joanne Arnott

In the topsy-turvey world of relationships, there is no hope to establish the consistent up, the bonnified down. In Fiona Lam's "Aquarium," the pregnant one is abandoned while the slender is free-- yet among seahorses, the female passes her eggs to the male, and so, in the moment of the poem, who is who? A complex inversion of the mammal story and that of the humans told/outside the glass and looking in.

In my poem, "seahorse migrations," i sought to illustrate the function of memory and the urgent though often unconscious way that the human animal seeks healing, through relatedness, through storytelling.                    

Fiona Lam, "Aquarium" © 2009 by Fiona Tinwei Lam |
Poem published in The Best Canadian Poetry in English, 2010 (Toronto: Tightrope Books, 2010) |, Originally published in The New Quarterly in 2009. Animation by: Chelsea Ker & John Oman |
Sound Design: Tinjun Niu, Poem read by Fiona Tinwei Lam, recorded by Shona Lam;
Music: Raphael Choi. I was unable to resize this, to see the "i," the full "we" it's best to watch it on youtube (or vimeo)

My poem included in forthcoming collection...

Seahorse Mating Dance, Uploaded by on 28 Mar 2010
Filmed at Seahorse Aquariums in Dublin. Shortly after putting away the camera the female started laying eggs into the male's pouch - typical! Three types of seahorse appear in the video and if you look carefully you will see a baby seahorse floating through the water. Music Royalty free from: Kevin MacLeod (

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