This is a poem that heals a fish: Discovering the magic of poetry

this poem heals a fish

Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.

Robert Frost

Many writers have talked about the art of poetry writing and how it showcases the thought of the writer in a rhythm that resonates with the reader. I often wonder what a poem is?

Recently I came across a beautiful piece of writing that helped answer my question.

While randomly scrolling through various pieces of literature written ages back, you sometimes stumble upon a piece that touches the depth of your heart and connects with you on a different emotional level.

One such poem is This is a poem that heals a fish, by Jean-Pierre Simeón.

Arthur’s mommy looks at him.
She closes her eyes,
she opens her eyes…

Then she smiles:

Hurry, give him a poem!

And she leaves for her tuba lesson.

One day Arthur finds that his tuna fish is dying, and his mother advises him to sing poetry to the fish. Confused about what poetry is, Arthur goes around asking people what poetry is.

this poem heals a fish, brain cuddle

The House

He first goes into the pantry and finds noodles, but no poem. Under the bed, he finds a vacuum cleaner, and dust balls but no sign of poetry.

Determined, Arthur continues his search.
He runs to Lolo’s bicycle shop.
Lolo knows everything, laughs all the time, and is always in love.
He is repairing a tire and singing.

Making of poetry

He decides to go to the bicycle shop, owned by Lolo a happy person, who always laughs and is in love. Thus begins Arthur’s journey of creating a poetry masterpiece. Lolo tells him,

A poem, Arthur, is when you are in love and have the sky in your mouth.

Next Arthur visits Mrs Round, the baker she says,

A poem? I don’t know much about that.
But I know one, and it is hot like fresh bread.
When you eat it, a little is always left over.

Next, he visits his neighbour old Mahmoud who comes from the desert and waters his rhododendrons every morning at 9 o’clock. He tells him,

A poem is when you hear the heartbeat of a stone.

Arthur returns back to check on Leon, who is sleeping, “floating gently amidst the seaweed as if thinking”. Arthur now goes to his canary named Aristophanes, “who is no bird brain.”

She mentions

A poem is when words beat their wings.
It is a song sung in a cage.

The yellow canary is depicted as a red-haired woman singing Aristophanes. She could be a visual allusion to Aristophanes’ play Assemblywomen, or she could be a muse, whom Tallec invites to remind us that the muse can take various forms and appear in the most unlikely of locations.

Just then Arthur’s grandmother arrives and is greeted by the same question. She says,

A poem turns words around, upside down, and — suddenly! — the world is new.

She also redirects him to his grandfather who himself writes poetry. He Says,

A poem, well… it’s what poets make. Even if the poets do not know it themselves!

Arthur returns back to Leon. He apologised that he could not find poetry, but all he found was:

A poem
is when you have the sky in your mouth.
It is hot like fresh bread,
when you eat it,
a little is always left over.

A poem
is when you hear
the heartbeat of a stone
when words beat their wings.
It is a song sung in a cage.

A poem
is words turned upside down
and suddenly!
the world is new.

At the same moment, Leon opens his eyes and says,

Then I am a poet, Arthur.

Though being a children’s book, the writing touches people of all ages. Complement these with other poems like The heart and the Bottle and The Shadow Elephant.

Also, revisit Elizabeth Alexander’s take on how poetry impacts the human spirit.