We owe it to each other to tell stories - Neil Gaiman

Sunday, 16 January 2011

At the Hatchery

The woman who wears dark glasses large as goggles
has her hand wrapped around the elbow of the young woman
who is beautiful. Where does it come from,
this compulsion not just to know their thinking

but to live inside her for a while, the one
whose eyes are hidden as she stares down
into the impoundment where the salmon who swum upriver
end their travels? It must sound large to her, the clang

a loose piece of metal makes against the cement wall
whenever a fish leaps in its fury, I am claiming
the privilege to impute its fury as we listen to them
thrash. Dozens were killed an hour ago

because their fate is better if the eggs are stripped
than if they're left to their fandango
in the frothing of the creek. I have tried to live inside them too,
these fish who strain against the world, or into it, why

am I not so intent on battling my way into the young woman
who moves from one thing to another without hurry?
I would eavesdrop, but they talk in Spanish,
thwarting my attempt to learn if the blind woman can detect

the coolness radiating from the pile of slush, all that remains
of the ice in which the dead were packed
before being trucked off to the food bank: if she could see
she'd see the vapor rising, as from a campfire not quite put out.

LUCIA PERILLO

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