The Aquarium

By Michele Rappoport

August 28, 2023

The Aquarium

Still dark when booms from the living room startle us awake. We stumble toward the sound and find a bird in the atrium. It’s a white-winged dove, like many we see on our daily walks. The glass is splotched from her many attempts to escape, but she is not frantic now. She floats in the small space like a seahorse in deep ocean.

I’ve never seen a dove suspended like this, so big because she is so close. Her wings flap gently, just enough to keep her aloft, but her wingspan won’t let her escape through the narrow rafters that form an open-air ceiling.

In her last years, lost behind the Vaseline-smeared lens of Alzheimer’s, my mother used to call the atrium the aquarium. It was useless to tell her it wasn’t, but standing here, groggy and still tethered to my last dream, I can see it. A sparrow flitting quick as a dartfish, or a lizard army-crawling the stucco like a goby climbing a waterfall. I see her, too, watching a world of her own making with perfect clarity and delight.

“Better call the wildlife center,” my husband says, reaching for his phone.

The dove has managed to perch on one of the floodlights, cherry eye on me, bright with fear.

My husband dials, but before anyone answers, she’s gone.


Michele Rappoport is an American writer and artist living in the desert southwest. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in a variety of literary journals, including Delmarva Review, High Desert Journal, The Centifictionist, Salamander, and Chautauqua. Michele also co-teaches a creative writing workshop at the Arizona state prison near Tucson, which has been running for more than 50 years.


Image by Ashish Thakur courtesy of Unsplash

comments powered by Disqus « Back to Beautiful-Things

Newsletter Sign Up

shadow shadow