After a lifetime of yearning for a fish pond, I’ve built a raised cistern few years back. It’s right by the front porch, where I can hear the water run when I write outside in the summer. And it has fish. Slithery, responsive, graceful and gorgeous fish. Last winter they survived the deep freeze of winter, thawing out, swimming as though punch drunk. This year, they didn’t.
Maybe it was too cold for too long. Maybe I’d failed clearing out all the organic material, and enough methane had accumulated and killed them. That’s why fish die under ice – there’s enough oxygen, but if leaves decompose, they spoil the water. They had still been alive around Christmas, moving slowly under a sheet of windblown glass. Now they look like a gourmet creation. Fish in aspic, presented with colors intact and gleaming.
They’re safe from the insatiable heron that terrorizes the neighborhood fish ponds now. They have joined our two cats and two dogs and numerous other fish, enjoying the perfectly cool water and shady waterlilies of piscian afterlife. Rest in peace, my pretty, pretty friends.