In photography class,
we were unconsciously floating around the small room
like a single-minded unit,
arranging ourselves into an evenly spaced pattern,
facing a single direction,
standing on our tiptoes to get a better look at the orange-sized orb,
“This is a fish-eye lens. You can let it hang down, like this—”
we dropped it like a yoyo,
“or you can point it up, like this, or out, this way.“
We jabbed the lens into the middle of the cluster of us and
blinked at the flash and
heard the shutter click, and
we were processing the film from the camera that
captures light via the sphere-shaped lens. We were
peering down at the print,
anxious to see the image that emerged, submerged
in a watery mix of chemicals. And,
standing there with rust-colored skin under the rust-colored light:
we were seeing everything as one at once.
at the moment the shutter opened, writing sentences for an essay,
in room C‑9, teaching English,
where we hoped to finish our assignment in class so we wouldn’t have homework, when
G.B. Shaw revealed some of the absurdity
of English spelling by applying its conventions in such a way that
could be spelled “ghoti.” And
speaking of fish,
just when we snapped the shutter,
we were sitting in our biology class reflecting how,
via the complex net of the earth’s waterways,
might in one lifetime circumnavigate the globe.
It might come to life in the North Sea,
travel down the Atlantic to pass under
Argentina and across the Bellingshausen Sea,
go north through the Pacific Ocean for a visit to the Bering Straits, and
eventually die in the waters south of China or even in the Indian Ocean.
It might, on its way,
swim into the mouths of glistening rivers.
At which second, through the photoproduct we’re calling a fish’s eye,
we saw we were seated beside the Jordan,
that we were eager teachers learning “Baptism is a symbolic ritual.
The baptized are fish,
the baptist is a fisher—
—an ordained priest.
His helpers are fishermen.”
And across the
court we were spinning a compass for
and discovered what Euclid called
the vesica piscis, and
started silently signaling assent
with the loop of a thumb and forefinger.
At that moment,
as per school schedule,
this lesson coincidentally coincided
with Western Civ where we were
“Fisher” Kings—Priest Kings—and
we were knights embarking on long bloody journeys between Europe and Jerusalem,
never knowing, never forgetting
the Fisher King heritage of the Holy Grail. And
we were students of Eastern Philosophy,
dropping smooth pebbles one at a time onto two sides of a scale
as we asked our pupils to ponder this:
“A bird doesn’t know air, a fish doesn’t know water, and you don’t know yourself.” And
as the shutter snapped,
we were in Archaeology and
the continents split apart and
what had been dry land was flooded with new networks
of oceans and seas and rivers and waterways.
At that moment, as amoebae and trilobites and tadpoles and
so many wiggling slippery lives,
we were teaching ourselves,
for a reason we would never know,
to labor out of a watery mix of chemicals
so we might cast out the history of a species that,
against the forces of entropy and gravity,
relentlessly and forever climbs upward.
Shares understanding of symbol and metaphor and so
communicates, speaks, and writes.
Invents religion. Circumnavigates the globe.
Tries to learn and understand; pretends to teach.
Peers through the fiction of a
to imagine capturing the flash of an idea that time is an illusion and all is one.
Serious doubter of the theory of evolution, Andrea Sharp is puzzled by, and can’t explain the origin of, her poem, “The School.” And even though she spent a lot (probably too much) of time in school after physically out-growing childhood, she survived it all with a few fresh ideas, stories, rhyming ballads, late-night-like letters, and wished-for bios like this one. For example, Andrea is the creator/illustrator of “Catland,” “Somewhere Far,” “The Gossip On Tallula Tropp,” a collection of songs, and other written adventures. Some of them can be downloaded or purchased for pennies at http://www.shop.onlinestoreser