The wonderful, magic fortune-telling fish
He caught a fish on Christmas day
and brought it to my house to say
what he could not, of love. And hate.
A bluefish on a metal plate
wild dorsals needled, stinking salt,
tail curled up as if it felt
the wind and currents between us.
It cast me back to Xmases past
of heat-waves, ham, and paper hats
that bled carmine down our sweating brows.
Where grown-ups spoke through gritted teeth
and crackers spilled miniscule fish
that swam in our sticky palms,
and told the truth at a table
groaning with lies.
I fried that fish, chewed his intent
(a dredge of flour, pinch of salt)
I teased flesh from the lethal bones
and ate till just the bones were left,
a carcass picked clean of love.
I know what that fish meant.
From A Private Audience, a new collection of poetry by Beverly Rycroft. Available from Dryad Press.