Sun on Gasoline

A Display of Mackerel 

BY MARK DOTY

They lie in parallel rows,
on ice, head to tail,
each a foot of luminosity

barred with black bands,
which divide the scales’
radiant sections

like seams of lead
in a Tiffany window.
Iridescent, watery

prismatics: think abalone,
the wildly rainbowed
mirror of a soapbubble sphere,

think sun on gasoline.
Splendor, and splendor,
and not a one in any way

distinguished from the other
—nothing about them
of individuality. Instead

they’re all exact expressions
of the one soul,
each a perfect fulfilment

of heaven’s template,
mackerel essence. As if,
after a lifetime arriving

at this enameling, the jeweler’s
made uncountable examples,
each as intricate

in its oily fabulation
as the one before
Suppose we could iridesce,

like these, and lose ourselves
entirely in the universe
of shimmer—would you want

to be yourself only,
unduplicatable, doomed
to be lost? They’d prefer,

plainly, to be flashing participants,
multitudinous. Even now
they seem to be bolting

forward, heedless of stasis.
They don’t care they’re dead
and nearly frozen,

just as, presumably,
they didn’t care that they were living:
all, all for all,

the rainbowed school
and its acres of brilliant classrooms,
in which no verb is singular,

or every one is. How happy they seem,
even on ice, to be together, selfless,
which is the price of gleaming.

Repeated symbol of light

  • Ice reflect’s light, shimmering effect to some extent
  • Luminosity and Radiant

Barred with black bands creates contrast, poem also divided by bands?

Seams of lead – idea of being bound together, Tiffany window full of life

Iridescent, prismatic, overwhelmingly colourful: abalone shell, soap bubble sphere, again allusions to light.

Begins to introduce the idea their bright shining identity is a product of them as a whole rather than them as indiviuals

all in italics, possibly placing emphasis on the idea of togetherness

Perfect fulfilment of heavens template, religious symbol again, speaks of intricacy

Sudden change, contextualises it to us.

Description of mackerels togetherness being the source of such beauty forces us to question the significance we place in being an individual, makes us wonder if it really is worth it, or whether shining alone is a possibility. mirrored with the last line, the idea of

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