Mandy Bach

care home fish tank

the repurposed wooden church pew sits perpendicular
to the tank—we have to turn a full ninety to watch them
glide through the clear water, a kind of half-floating.
the only thing that dies faster than old people
are fish; we place bets on which ones make it through the night.
usually, the ones that look like tiny catfish last, saving energy
instead of swimming to get what’s given each morning.
when mom doesn’t go in, the fish starve: little ones found
floating belly-up, money collected and half-spent immediately
for a brisk and a hersheys, melted chocolate fingertips in small
swirls on the glass following the high risers. the front door
opens, reflected in the tank. the paramedics in white wade
in with their empty stretcher, squeaky wheels—the body
covered on the way out. change transfers hands again.

Mandy Bach is a poet from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She earned her BA in English and Creative Writing from Arcadia University in 2022, and she’s currently in the second year of her MFA in poetry from the University of South Carolina.