Digging fingers into cardboard box corners,
I stared at its dimensions: 25 x 15 x 11,
far too small for the memories sealed in with
his tank, cups, plants, everything he owned.
Nestling him close at red lights on his drive home,
May thirteenth light gleaming against young, red
scales, his nose bumping me as he cuddled
in my palm around the bag’s corner.
Crowding his tank with cameras and wide
eyes, watching his first flares, wriggles
cutting through the water with the ferocity
of claiming his new home.
Measuring yellow powder with shaking hands
and kneeling by his tank to watch the water
tint, then days of quick breaths until clear fin
filled in ragged edges again.
Pushing the pellets closer to remind him
to eat my offering, not chase me away,
and then a surprise nip, his mouth closing on my
finger once – twice! – until I retreat.
Releasing him to investigate five gallons of
space and more corners than he’d ever known,
tiring himself out and napping on his favourite
green hammock bed until nosiness won out.
Silvering scales never hid his heart, his quickness
to learn, his subtly affectionate signals, his territorial
flashes… his personality was always too big
for that 17.9-gallon cardboard box.
Rest in peace, Ianto Jones.
May you swim in a tank with no corners forever.
—Zabrina, or “the other owner”
Aww, this made me cry. May Ianto Jones the Betta swim in peace.