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Katy’s Sunfish


When everybody is asleep, I float

to the kitchen, grab the oatmeal box,

then fly to my little creek below the plant beds.

I call my fish, “Here, Charlie, here, Pete,

here, Opal, here, Kentucky!”

I scatter oatmeal the way

Grandma throws feed to her chickens.

In the moonlight the plant bed covers

look like snow, the creek is silver,

while the fish

dimple their dimples, which turn into circles,

which float into the sky and ring the moon.

Why, I’m not a bit cold, though winds

charge through the budding trees,

it’s my magical nightgown that Grandma gave me,

it turns into wool or water or a flying cloud.


Yesterday Daddy told me,

“Youngun, there ain’t no fish in that creek;

it’s hardly big enough for crawdads

and tadpoles.  The tractor wheels

have churned it to mud.

You can’t see nothing in that water.”


But last night a granny came to my window,

told me what to do to save my creek,

and this morning when nobody was looking

I took the tractor key and threw it

in the water.  By this summer, the tobacco 

plants will be as tall as trees,

I’ll build me a house of tobacco sticks

while the brown boys chase rabbits

in the alfalfa, and, whenever I want,

I’ll float down to the creek

on katydid songs, katydid, katydidn’t,

and I’ll watch my sunfish nibble at my toes,

I’ll tell them to dance a 

rainbow moonlight dance, while I sing,

“I’m the Queen of the Katydids,

The Whippoorwills, the Screech Owls,

I’m the Queen of the Katydids,

Katy didn’t, Katy did, she did!”


    --John Thomas York

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