Poetry Pause: Elana Wolff — The day we took the old tank out and put the new one in,

Poem Author: Elana Wolff Poem title: The day we took the old tank out and put the new one in, Poem: I was thinking I’d probably be more stroked if my name were Silken. Never was I that smooth, the fish is vanished in the tank. You with your net and rubber gloves—transferring the African cichlids from the old tank to the holding bin— thought the big one must have jumped, but where did the smooth blue body fall? Call it sense for survival, if you like, I call it cunning: I like the femininity of that word, its verbal noun-ness. After some kerfuffle, we discover the missing fish— under an inch of sloppy water, lying on its broad-side in the gravel, playing dead. I watch you net him—still at first, then flapping madly, unprepared for air & crossing waters. This fish who takes from your fingers: krill. This fish who makes you move … Is it the verb that does the big work? as some poets hold … You siphon the water from tank to bin, wash the lava rock, the river stones. We haul the leaky tank outside: separate as tines of a fork, yet joined. Set the new tank up in place, feel its heft in our wrists and shins. Put the rocks and water back and at the end, the fish. I’m thinking off and on about the work of the verb, of noun-ness, and if my name were Silken, would I want to be more stroked … End of poem. Credits: Copyright © Elana Wolff Originally published Grain (Vol. 45.4, Summer 2018); forthcoming in SWOON (Guernica Editions, 2020) Elana Wolff is the author of five solo collections of poetry and a collection of essays on poems. She has also co-authored, with the late Malca Litovitz, a collection of rengas; co-authored a chapbook of poems with Susie Petersiel Berg; co-edited with Julie Roorda a collection of poems written to poets and the stories that inspired them; and co-translated with Menachem Wolff poems from the Hebrew by Georg Mordechai Langer. Elana’s poems and creative nonfiction pieces have been widely published in Canada and internationally and have garnered awards. She has taught English for Academic Purposes at York University in Toronto and at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She currently divides her professional time between writing, editing, and designing and instructing social art courses with the City of Vaughan. Her sixth poetry collection, SWOON, is forthcoming with Guernica Editions in 2020.