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Rain of Animals
By Paula J. Lambert
In Texas, fish pelted the pavement, less stunned than the men who’d found them in the parking lot. They’d come a long way, the fish. It was a hell of a ride, lifted from the sea by a force no fish brain could possibly have fathomed, slapped down dead at the used car dealership on Summerhill Road. The men who gathered, trying to figure out what in the name of sweet baby Jesus could have happened, were at a disadvantage, never having been lifted themselves, knowing plenty about plagues of frogs and locusts but next to nothing about fishes come without loaves. They’d heard that crack of thunder, five days past Christmas, two days before the new year. Fish were dropping here and everywhere, they’d told the reporter, not knowing what to say except what was obvious, broken fish bodies starting to stink up their shoes. The smell stayed with them all day, and now, after saying prayers and shivering in the cold that came with the storm, they stared at the ceiling wishing there’d been a way to close those damn fish eyes staring like they’d seen the face of God. And they guessed the fish had. And they guessed that was blasphemy. And they guessed the fish had gotten what they deserved. So they closed their own eyes and curled up closer to their wives, women who’d been staring at the ceiling for weeks, who were pretty sure they knew what those fish had been through, pretty sure they hadn’t seen God.
Paula J. Lambert of Columbus, Ohio, has authored several collections of poetry including The Ghost of Every Feathered Thing (FutureCycle 2022) and How to See the World (Bottom Dog 2020). Awarded PEN America's L'Engle-Rahman Prize for Mentorship, Lambert's work has been supported by the Ohio Arts Council and the Greater Columbus Arts Council. She has twice been in residence at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts.
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