A Smile To Remember

we had goldfish and they circled around and around
in the bowl on the table near the heavy drapes
covering the picture window and
my mother, always smiling, wanting us all
to be happy, told me, 'be happy Henry!'
and she was right: it's better to be happy if you
can
but my father continued to beat her and me several times a week while
raging inside his 6-foot-two frame because he couldn't
understand what was attacking him from within.

my mother, poor fish,
wanting to be happy, beaten two or three times a
week, telling me to be happy: 'Henry, smile!
why don't you ever smile?'

and then she would smile, to show me how, and it was the
saddest smile I ever saw

one day the goldfish died, all five of them,
they floated on the water, on their sides, their
eyes still open,
and when my father got home he threw them to the cat
there on the kitchen floor and we watched as my mother
smiled

by Charles Bukowski

Comments (6)

The Old Oak Tree symbolizes tenacity, bravery and all that is firm...thanks for sharing..
I may be simply on an oak tree and mythical lizards that live in fire, but I understand this poem a story of the earth and the humans. We are living on this world as salamanders. I quote, Before, perhaps, it's empty when full catching breath because of the heritage which remains there it is there rooted mainly. Yes, we are living in the rough ligneous wreckage of the earth, made by the time, and facing the consequences of our ancestor's misdeeds.
I love this poem. I like the reminiscence in it. Reminds me of trees way back in the past. Thanks for writing it.
Ok, I reread, not remembering having read it before. We live near redwoods. Salamanders on rye toast are a treat; I just have NOT figured out for whom. Certainly not the salamanders? ? :) Bri
Read the poem twice and I try to understand the logic...it is interesting salamanders and the oak cavity would like an explanation and release myself off the hook of perplexity...regards
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