Learning To Clean Fish
You pluck a blue gill from the white bucket
teaming with fish suspended in lazy
pirouette, eyes gone black, cool skin warming
in a lifeless cylinder of city water.
Knee to knee with an uncle thumbing
the keen edge of a blade, neatly framed
in a kitchen window giving out
on the lake taut and leaking cobalt
in the wake of a sinking August sun.
Plump lozenge arranged on newsprint canvas
perfumes the dome of yellow light with tales
of decay spawned by filthy glaciers stealing
over the fresh gouge of Lake Superior.
Flex the wrist below table’s edge to keep
the angle fine, feathering your knife
as you go, a quiver of flesh beneath
a curl of skin peeled clean with only
the merest hint of gleaming finality.
Before it’s lost I press this leaf between
the swollen pages of the book I keep
at hand, fingering the glass tilting
empty by this chair, lake lapping my toes.