Cleaning Fish On Good Friday 1963

Fate, then, heavy in a boy's hand,
hoists dead weight to a nail on a tree.
His knife scores firm flesh yielding
beneath freshly limp gills - there is
an instrument made just for this,
pincher-pliers for catfish skin -
he grips and tears, uses his weight
down-stripping smoothly bare to such
luscence little ribs of roseate flesh.

Only the overly large head, the ugly face
whiskered within gilded monstrance,
remain pure to form, thin-lipped and
mocking, restrained by depth pressures,
sustained on surface trash, dead things
that sink down, it's treasures.

Tenderly he sings, then, to a nail,
a blood catechism of hands and
mind meant to be stained, mercy's
quality unstrained neither by will
nor gill. Scavenging flocks gladly
fill their gullets inhaling entrails
tossed in supplicant bins.

In unison Gregorian they scream:

There is a nail for us
plain, a chorus of barks**,

splintered lips
punctuated surprise,

glossolalia of rivers
now given weight.

We can only will
praise to 'The End',

and spill, post-pliers,
our silken guts in offering.

**A catfish when brought to shore barks, a rasping, barking discharge of air.

by Warren Falcon

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