On Wanting to Tell [ ] about a Girl Eating Fish Eyes

By Mary Szybist Mary Szybist
—how her loose curls float
above each silver fish as she leans in
to pluck its eyes—

You died just hours ago.
Not suddenly, no. You'd been dying so long   
nothing looked like itself: from your window,   
fishermen swirled sequins;   
fishnets entangled the moon.

Now the dark rain   
looks like dark rain. Only the wine   
shimmers with candlelight. I refill the glasses
and we raise a toast to you   
as so and so's daughter—elfin, jittery as a sparrow—
slides into another lap   
to eat another pair of slippery eyes   
with her soft fingers, fingers rosier each time,   
for being chewed a little.

If only I could go to you, revive you.
You must be a little alive still.   
I'd like to put this girl in your lap.
She's almost feverishly warm and she weighs   
hardly anything. I want to show you how   
she relishes each eye, to show you
her greed for them.   

She is placing one on her tongue,
bright as a polished coin—   

What do they taste like? I ask.
Twisting in my lap, she leans back
sleepily. They taste like eyes, she says.

Source: Poetry (November 2008).


This poem originally appeared in the November 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

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November 2008
 Mary  Szybist


Mary Szybist grew up in Pennsylvania. She earned degrees from the University of Virginia and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Teaching-Writing Fellow. Her first collection of poetry, Granted (2003), was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the winner of the 2004 Great Lakes Colleges Associations New Writers Award.  Her second book, Incarnadine (2013), won the National Book Award for Poetry. . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Youth, Activities, Eating & Drinking, Horror

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

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