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Frying Trout while Drunk

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Mother is drinking to forget a man
who could fill the woods with invitations:   
come with me he whispered and she went   
in his Nash Rambler, its dash
where her knees turned green
in the radium dials of the 50's.
When I drink it is always 1953,
bacon wilting in the pan on Cook Street   
and mother, wrist deep in red water,   
laying a trail from the sink
to a glass of gin and back.
She is a beautiful, unlucky woman
in love with a man of lechery so solid   
you could build a table on it
and when you did the blues would come to visit.   
I remember all of us awkwardly at dinner,   
the dark slung across the porch,
and then mother’s dress falling to the floor,   
buttons ticking like seeds spit on a plate.   
When I drink I am too much like her—   
the knife in one hand and the trout  
with a belly white as my wrist.   
I have loved you all my life
she told him and it was true
in the same way that all her life
she drank, dedicated to the act itself,   
she stood at this stove
and with the care of the very drunk   
handed him the plate.

Lynn Emanuel, “Frying Trout While Drunk” from Hotel Fiesta. Copyright © 1984, 1992, 1995 by Lynn Emanuel. Reprinted with the permission of the author and the University of Illinois Press.
Source: Hotel Fiesta (University of Illinois Press, 1984)

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This poem originally appeared in the May 1983 issue of Poetry magazine

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Frying Trout while Drunk

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