The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: How to Dress a Fish by Abigail Chabitnoy


There was a house I needed
to go
I needed a home
to survive
to wait the fire
the flood where there were others
with other
There was earth in them
I dug
the dead with words
I dug my way back
to survive the flood
into the earth
I had to know what I didn’t know You can’t throw the fish
I didn’t know back in the water
what kind of monster was I and expect to swim—
So I dug.
I dug out a rib
and another’s rib
I dug deeper
I reached the bottom of this

house I reached the cellar
where the center was cold
where I could hide
My body full of bodies

This selection comes from the book, How to Dress a Fish, available from Wesleyan University Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Natalie Giarratano.

Abigail Chabitnoy earned her MFA in poetry at Colorado State University and was a 2016 Peripheral Poets fellow and 2020 Kenyon Writers Workshop Peter Taylor Fellow. She has been a resident of Caldera and the Wrangell Arts Center, and her poems have appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Boston Review, Tin House, Gulf Coast, LitHub, and Red Ink, among others. She is a Koniag descendant and member of the Tangirnaq Native Village in Kodiak, Alaska, was raised in Pennsylvania, and is currently a consultant for a company in CO that works to facilitate tribal self-determination. Her debut poetry collection, How to Dress a Fish, was released from Wesleyan University Press. Visit her website at for more information. Twitter Handle: @achabitnoy

Natalie Giarratano is the author of Big Thicket Blues (Sundress Publications, 2017) and Leaving Clean, winner of the 2013 Liam Rector First Book Prize in Poetry (Briery Creek Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared in Beltway PoetryTupelo Quarterly, Tinderbox, and American Literary Review, among others. She edits and lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her partner and daughter and is the city’s poet laureate. 


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