Gutter Fish

I worked nights in Brazil, photographing stars. Coming home one morning, I found the neighbor kids gathered around the curb. All year, a trickle of water ran beside it, starting from a neighbor’s farm and moving down through the prosperous community below, eventually draining into the Rio Potengi.

“What’s up?”, I asked.

“Fish!” they answered.

They were on their knees, giggling, hands in mud and water. I walked over, expecting floating toys of sticks and leaves, but saw little flashes of color. A child’s cupped hands held a small, brightly hued fish darting in a bit of water.

I knelt beside the rivulet and saw hundreds of tiny finned creatures slipping through fingers of little people delighted by their beauty.

I lived a few degrees from the Equator. These were tropical fish, the real thing. They weren’t in an aquarium in a doctor’s office.  They lived free in their home, my gutter.

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