Gutting the Fish

by Emily Lowe

I am careful with the first cut. I grip the graying splinter of scales & put the knife to its belly. The blade glides between gills up towards the mouth. Cupped in my hands, the body shudders like an exhale. My thumbs slip into the slit and halve the fish like a secret.

If I were younger, I might think it still breathes.

The first time you took me out on your boat, you carved your body into mine as we waited for a bite. Cobalt clouds covered the sky like dead scales. Later, with our icebox of silver bodies in the shed, you stretched over me like a shadow, tucked a knife into my shivering fingers, & whispered it is an act of love.

Emily Lowe is a North Carolina based writer who explores questions of family, identity, and mental illness through poetry and prose. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in HobartRiver Teeth, and Arc Poetry Magazine.

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