A Free Verse Poem from an Explore 2000 Student

Ode to Winter Flounder

By Yazan Baghdady

Flounder
You lie flat
On the seafloor
Waiting with your single eye
On the right side
Of your flattened head
Brown patterns run
Down your flanks
An inquisitive shrimp
Looks at the strange patch
You gulp it down
As you have ended the lives of thousands
Another shrimp is dangling in front of you
It shines with a strange light
You gulp it down
Searing pain down your throat
You are pulled up
You cannot resist
You cannot breathe

An enormous thing grabs you
An enormous thing slits your belly
You convulse
You are still
You are packaged, frozen
Arriving in a cavernous space
You see, hear, smell none of it
The life has left your body
You are sliced into fillets
Put into tiny Styrofoam containers
Labeled “Winter Flounder”
Fried and eaten
Mercilessly by humans
How could a creature of such noble beginnings come to such a lowly end?
Your relatives, from Labrador, Canada to Georgia
So many suffer the same fate
Your life, which could have been to 18 years

Ended so early
Each one of you could make 1.5 million more
But none of your young live
To venture out of the sandy shallows
And join you on the muddy seafloor
If only the humans waited
So you could grow to the full 25 inches, the full 8 pounds
It would be better for everyone
Even the greedy humans