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Ode to the Electric Fish that Eat Only the Tails of Other Electric Fish,

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which regenerate their tails
and also eat only the tails of other electric eels,
presumably smaller, who, in turn, eat ... 
Without consulting an ichthyologist — eels
are fish — I defer to biology’s genius.
I know little of their numbers
and habitat, other than they are river dwellers.
Guess which river. I have only a note,
a note taken in reading
or fever — I can’t tell, from my handwriting, which. All
I know is it seems
sensible, sustainable: no fish dies,
nobody ever gets so hungry he bites off more
than a tail; the sting, the trauma
keeps the bitten fish lean and alert.
The need to hide while regrowing a tail teaches guile.
They’ll eat smaller tails for a while.
These eels, these eels themselves are odes!

Source: Poetry (October 2016)

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This poem originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of Poetry magazine

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Ode to the Electric Fish that Eat Only the Tails of Other Electric Fish,

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