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The Delicacy

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for M.H.

Friend, remember how you showed us beasts love beauty?
We were wading in your lake with bluegills and you said,
Be careful, you will lose your beauty marks

To their little jaws. We were a delicacy. From us they purchased
The darkest part of the skin, only what contrasts on us.
And it was more than a pinch or sting,

It’s a sensation of hunger
That makes us spring off the bottom and swim out deep
And safe. “No blue stripes on cheeks; no red on fins;

Old individual’s belly coppery red or brassy.”
As others see you, I think these indicate,
Who would have you all one shade then wouldn’t have you.

At your full table later, over muskellunge and lemon,
We read in the book the fish that liked us
Has certain maxillaries “wholly wanting.” Your gourmet bluegill:

It lives in the eye of the beholder, it swims the vitreous
Humor, would eat even your blind spot!
But we think we can paddle out there until all

Goes dark, and we are wholly desirable, and too much.

Sandra McPherson, “The Delicacy” from Patron Happiness (New York: The Ecco Press, 1983). Copyright © 1983 by Sandra McPherson. Reprinted with the permission of the author.
Source: Patron Happiness (Ecco Press, 1983)
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The Delicacy

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