Paul Asta

Lullaby for the Wandering Child

Tell him he was born a goldfish
and you called him marmalade,
because his tail fin reminded you

of your grandmother’s butter knife
inserted and spun about the jar,
which she held with a loose grip

and trembling hands, and it wasn’t
the mess afterwards that worried you,
it was the pouring and the tremble,

the way the light came in through
the kitchen window, and the jar
of marmalade glowed clandestine

and ricocheted amber all over
the blue kitchen walls, and when
he asks why he was born a goldfish,

tell him how you held him to the sky,
hoping the sky would seem miraculous,
jubilant even, how quickly the night

approaches, and though he will find
no answers in the stars, and though
this will not comfort him, tell him

he was a small boy with mercurial
features, born in equinox, that you
found him on land that was no good,

the dirt trodden, the grass raised
from gravel, the gravel too dense
to walk on, and tell him how the sky

that day was cut from its stalk,
and he stood before you like a bird
with both wings broken, a violin

in the rain slowly pulled against
the landscape, and when he is done
asking his questions, and when

you find there is nothing left to say,
send him down to the water
and let him find his own way home.

Paul Asta is an MFA Candidate in Poetry at Indiana University Bloomington. He was born in South Korea and raised in the Chicago suburbs.