how can i pull a kind of reckless
reminiscence from the fish market
in town—on sunday i go alone.
the gardenias are unwatered
upon my return, the chamomile
unsteeped, toppling odds one over
another over another, but i can
only wring the salt from my sundress
and fill my mouth with brine. i scribble
on soiled parchment—to my husband—
but he will not be home until the ink
bleeds dry. the fish eyes are seething
blind so i sever sinew from bone,
bone carved of alabaster, simmered
and made into stew for a blind man’s
dinner. he will return riding the coattails
of a beer-battered high with not even
counterfeit love to give. i rock
in an armchair and think of this love,
cut from the lining of a singed oyster
shell, this love, wasted. before the
decades drowned themselves
in kerosene, i encountered a man at the
fish market on a sunday who gave
to me a spiraling romance in the ashes.
now, i tear the soft flesh of an apricot
naked from its pit and suck its nectar
from my gaping wounds—do you miss
me as much as i miss you? stranger—
you should see the acropolis i built
for you in my dreams. we are more
and more than this, you said. you
promised me more than a half-baked
existence so where are you now? now,
i lay a gallery of scraps on the beaten
cobblestone and wait for the coyotes
to feast at dusk. they say if the fever
does not kill you the loneliness will.
they say it is easier to play pretend. and
it is not until i have taped cellophane
ghosts to the sills and hung the linen
to dry that i recall—the man from the
fish market i married, but look what
has become of us now. a stranger
now. look—the tides are ever in flux,
shifting. look—i can no longer water
the roots of my saltwater fantasy.
look—how can i con serendipity?
pray that this life—clean, scale, gut—
is only a prototype for the next one.
Katie B. Tian is a fifteen-year-old writer from New York and a student at Jericho High School. She has been recognized nationally by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for her work. She hopes to share her visions with a larger community through her poetry and prose.