you cannot eat a koi fish

by Sarah Parker

chipped brown bridge. wide koi pond.
river water floats, brimming blushing
copper pennies. metal draws the sun
down between the green-gold ripples
on the water’s surface. honey-pink bellies
float, soft and feathered, just beneath.
a wildflower skyline braces the brown
mountains, tipping gold hands toward
sun-stained tops. something soft moves
in the rosy wind as brown-haired girls float.
running. fast-beating hearts. a copper-
yellow field.

crimson water burnt out red. swallow, don’t swallow
               crochet lips     cold blue

one of them cuts across the grass.
over water. her bright blushing cheeks shine
in the golden light, melting sunny freckles
on her nose as she bowls through the
soft rose wind. pressing gold between the
shallow waves. she points her body toward
the sun, lets the light peel the shrunken words from her soft honey chest; gold
leaves sprout from her open hands, crowning beneath her fingernails as
she tips her honey hands
toward shining mountain tops.

puckered fish     needle in the eye     swallow me swallow me
               sew     my own eyes           shut.

hands in the water, a lily pad stuck to the
edges of her palm. honeysuckle glue.
sweet body               soft eyes
crescent fingers        curl,
a body      caught      inside.

river koi body / broad bloated swollen gouged / stolen child / of some other place / ocean islands
               twined / kamikaze straits—

you cannot eat
a koi fish. a seine
is not used for
this, only
my hands.

only hands     raw.
eyes               cavernous.
fingernails      salient.
                      tapering, keen. 


dirt beneath scales     purple green, muddy
                                   black blue
                                   almost a sponge, sucking the earth up into its amphibious body, bones,
                                   cropped brain, muscle, vesicle.
blood in the grass      fish guts, open in the
                                   mud. mingling. earth.
                                   stone. dirt. rock
                                   against rock sharp,
                                   thin; shank born of
                                   bloodthirst, of
                                   meekness, weakness.
                                   of power-     lessness.

lifting a hand, finger to her blush toned mouth, she           sucks, swallows.
           fish breath.
           ugly thing, ugly

eat me, she said. eat me raw. open. bloody.
           rotten            my body will swell
bloated gouged                   fold my body
           into your mouth        swallow me

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