The catch is so fresh, each bite is blue—
the sea still in it, and settling on your tongue
like prayer. This is what it means to eat,
you think, to abandon utensils for the grace
of fingers, to hold flesh against flesh,
hands slick with what will become
inseparable from your own thrumming
body. As a child, you loved fry dry,
the small fish you ate whole, and imagined
them swimming in you, your belly
full as an ocean. Now you know better—
that nothing consumed lives on as before.
When the bone, thin as a wish,
lodges itself in the pink flesh of your mouth,
refuses offerings of bread or water,
becomes an ache that will not be moved,
you understand: this is what it means
to be a body—that what is taken in
takes root in ways beyond your choosing—
a single bite and you carry the ocean in your throat.
LAUREN K. ALLEYNE is the author of two collections of poetry, Difficult Fruit (Peepal Tree Press 2014), and Honeyfish (New Issues & Peepal Tree, 2019). Her work has appeared in numerous publications including the New York Times, The Atlantic, Ms. Muse, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Interviewing the Caribbean, and the Crab Orchard Review. Recent honors for her work include a 2017 Philip Freund Alumni Prize for Excellence in Publishing (Cornell University), the 2016 Split This Rock Poetry Prize, and a Picador Guest Professorship in Literature (University of Leipzig, Germany, 2015). She is currently the assistant director of the Furious Flower Poetry Center and an associate professor of English at James Madison University. Twitter Handle: @poetLKA
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 Poetry, Tupelo 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.