I prefer it simple, just salt and sugar.
Add the rest later; we’ve waited months for the sun
to chase thick dust from the bookshelf,
grease my click-clack heart till it beats louder than a forgotten bomb.
I’ve rolled the fish in salt already, buried the thing cold
under spare plates,
an heirloom decanter I never use but which possesses the requisite
I’m on the losing end of this already — I can tell.
My own bones feel old, the winter no longer a deep buttery sleep
but a fitful restlessness,
a staring out the window at black piled upon black
till muscles ache and eyelids droop.
I wish for dreams but they don’t come;
I sink into earth but the salt surrounds me,
draws out my breath so the space between seconds throbs dully.
That which lasts is spread thin, the gaps filled in with vinegar.
You should not be surprised that by the end the fish has shrunk,
absorbed more than it contained.
This is how it’s supposed to be.
This selection comes from Sonya Vatomsky’s chapbook My Heart in Aspic, available now from Porkbelly Press. Purchase your copy here!
Sonya Vatomsky is a Moscow-born, Seattle-raised feminist poetess ghost. She is the author of Salt is for Curing (Sator Press, fall 2015) and chapbook My Heart in Aspic (Porkbelly Press), and is a poetry editor at Fruita Pulp. Find her by saying her name five times in front of a bathroom mirror or at sonyavatomsky.tumblr.com.
Ben McClendon is a PhD student in creative writing at the University of Tennessee. He previously studied poetry at Northern Arizona University after teaching high school English for several years. His poems have appeared in Indiana Review, Yemassee, Chautauqua, Redivider, Rattle, Word Riot, and elsewhere. Ben lives with his husband in Knoxville.