Life Is Cheap, My Name is Halcyon
(The Life of a Wedding Feast Centerpiece)
By Susan E Casler
An Animal Rights Poem from

All of God's creatures have rights, a fact that most people don't seem to recognize. This includes both human and non-human animals, but not all of them can speak for themselves.

Life Is Cheap, My Name is Halcyon
(The Life of a Wedding Feast Centerpiece)
By Susan E Casler

Today is a marvelous day.
There is a young woman at the store and she is looking us all over.
She chooses me and 19 of my brethren to help her on her special day.
Soon we are all moved from our tiny little plastic jars to a tall glass receptacle called a vase.
We are all placed in the middle of separate tables and we are surrounded by fire.
I hear someone call them candles.
Soon there are many people here.
They are all laughing, eating, talking and having a great time.
As the day goes on some people are tapping the vases while others take little notice of the
beautiful creatures contained within.
At the end of the party a man makes an announcement that a person at each table is
invited to take a fish home.
Not everyone looks happy about this.
Iím lucky though, a lady has taken my vase and after a 3 hour drive I arrive at my new home.

My lady takes out a large glass tank and starts preparing water.
She has to dechlorinate it and wait for the temperature to get just right before I can begin 
my transition to my new home.
It is so large.
She does this thing where she puts a little of the new tanks water in my water.
She does this little by little until finally I am allowed to go into my new tank.
I swim with abandon, as I have never had this much space.
She places my tank in front of another.
There are 2 Shubunkins in that tank named Love and Gratitude.
They are beautiful, orange and white in color and very spirited.
I try to impress them by puffing myself up but they are unimpressed so after a few days I stop doing that.

My lady has named me Halcyon.
She says it means peaceful, which is what she hopes I can be in such an artificial 
She has gone on something called a computer to learn about me.
She says I am a Siamese Fighting Fish and I am far from my natural home. 
She hopes I will like it here.
I am living in something called a studio.
Sometimes my lady plays instruments with strings and sometimes things that she
blows on that make beautiful sounds.
Sometimes she sings with her voice.
I havenít eaten in so long that it takes her a couple of days to coax me to eat.
The Shubunkins however are great teachers, as they eat with gusto.

For 2 weeks all is well in my little world.
But one day I start to feel a little tired and just want to rest.
My lady reaches into the tank with a net to check on me but I swim away.
She is staring at me with concern.
Now her mother is staring at me too, then her husband.
She says that my fins have little white spots on them.
My lady is back to the computer again.
She discovers I have something called Fin Rot or Ich.
She gets me some special medicine and changes my water daily.
Iíll tell you I never had this much attention at the Walmart of my origins.
But no matter what she does I feel a little worse every day.
I see the worry in her face as she tells her husband she doesnít think I am 
going to make it.
She sings to me and commits me to my maker.
Later that day when she leaves I simply cease to be.
When she returns I am gone.

She seems sad and angry.
She says it is criminal to commit a living creature to my doom.
But doesnít she understand?
I fulfilled my purpose in life!
After all for one afternoon I was the wedding feast centerpiece.
No little Halcyon, you were created to live and swim freely in a world far from here.

Authorís note
Halcyon was a graceful, delicate creature of beauty who came to me in Upstate New York State from a far away land.
He came to an environment essentially hostile to his origins.
I did not start that day looking for yet another rescue project.
These situations just seem to find me.
I am not understanding the cheapness of life, whereby this beauty is sold for a nickelís profit.
How many Bettaís expire without ever being ďchosenĒ?
I wonder how his brethren faired?
Is even one of them still alive?
I am politically conservative and believe in the free enterprise system of capitalism but I can make no sense out of this practice.
Why donít we just leave these beauties in Japan, the land of their origins where they can live freely and naturally?

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