The Fish

The next table claps
when our order arrives:
whole fish baked in sea salt.
With the side
of a serving spoon,
the waiter cracks
the crust open.
Even its eyes
are shrouded in salt.
Each person gets a mouthful.
It’s the fleeing that
makes it tender.
I can’t be sure I’ve
ever loved anything this whole,
that I’ll ever be this close again
to something so expensive.
Hot Santa Ana wind mopes
across clay courts—
cigarette ash drops
from the balcony.
My view includes
the hotel loading dock:
a catering truck unloads
clean, bone-colored napkins.

From Coachella Elegy by Christian Gullette (Trio House Press, 2024). Copyright © 2024 Christian Gullette. Reprinted with the permission of the press.