It was a fat pause. A pregnant one — we all heard
it. Saw the caesura hanging there in the air,
a gaping emptiness she must have felt
as ice. Its eyes, wide open,
stared between the maws
of my mother’s open belly.
Later that night I ran
into the woods, where a pond lies
waiting for little girls to steal fish,
where I waited — standing still
and pruned as the new dead newborn
cut untimely, cut precisely
from my mother’s womb — for the fish.
Like a kitten, it rubbed its sides against my ankles,
scales scraping skin, and I looked down
to wait for the moment I would close
my ankles shut, quick,
so that I would not harm the creature.
When I felt it twist between my hands,
I imagined I held him in my arms,
but out of the pail
into the paleness of my bathtub.
I poke it with a pole,
as its sleek body slides
through water thick with cold.
Gold fringe of fin and tail,
He bursts a brilliant red.
Published in Penn Review Volume 46, Issue 2