Christian Detisch



              Love for our neighbor, being made of creative attention,
              is analogous to genius.

                                                                    —Simone Weil

My father, in fluorescent light, transfixed,
sits sometimes for hours, silent, downstairs
to watch as, black-red, the bloodworms helix

down to his waiting fish. For years he's mixed
the frozen cubes with lukewarm water, stared
still as stone in fluorescent light, transfixed.

"This is how you care for something," he lisps:
"Clean the water. Check the pH strips. Clear
the foggy glass. Watch the cold-red helix

descend, bloom in the cichlid's mouth." The trick,
my father taught, is consistency paired
with a cool touch, his fluorescent lights transfixed

on the anubias leaves, the anacharis.
For years the cichlids, tetras, barbs have shared
these tanks downstairs, & each evening helix

around the column—red, dancing—he drips,
precise as Edward Hopper mixing paints.
Father, in this light, fluorescent, transfixed,
I watch as you watch your bloodworms helix.