Once caught, hook in jaw,

I ask them for a few words

about the minnows

and life under water


Their mouths open and close —

a trickle of blood,

flips of tail and fin —

not a whisper or groan


I slide them back into the water

with a meek, “sorry,”

my fingers left stinking

with the memory of slime


I have swum a brief while

in their world —

flying fish and walking fish,

an instant in mine


If they could catch and hold me,

ask me to describe life on earth,

the first word out and in and out

of my mouth would be: “Why?”