The Fish by Jacqueline Linares

Red fish on black background with blue and yellow accents

The Fish

Pappa tells me how on
the radio, he heard them say
that firefighters must
sometimes kill
small animals
to prevent them
from spreading
the flames
with their ignited fur

I imagine
ashed hands
the soft neck
of a warm rabbit
like a wet rag
over a sink
the faces of hills
burning away

I look at my father
and see the lines
time has etched
under his eyes

our eyes

And I remember
Pappa as a younger,
happier man
with his eczema
eaten hands
scooping up
my goldfish,
dying and flopping on
the carpet
when I knocked
the bowl over

Pappa, angry:
You must learn to take
Care of things, Jacqueline,
if I teach you nothing else.
Walk quietly
and slowly around this fish
because he’s only a fish.

He fills up the bowl
with water
and lets the fish
jump out of his hand
into the bowl



Jacqueline Linares is a Guatemalan-American writer from Los Angeles, California. She studied literature and film at Long Beach State University.

Basia Kurlender is a graphic designer, illustrator, t-shirt collector, lifelong New Yorker, friend to dogs, successful matchmaker, BFA recipient (Pratt ‘19), voice memo demo fanatic, recovering sign painter, Aquarius, skater, good driver, basement show attendee, jeans re-wearer, pickle maker, notorious one minute songwriter, loyal Craigslist missed connections reader, Simon & Garfunkel superfan, website owner (, instagram user (@bshawww), etc.