Sleepless, the fish wait
——-for the steer’s head,
—————a ceremony they have learned

to require—primordial
——-as the filaments of gills
—————but honed in this economy

of flesh: the apprentice’s arcing
——-heave, the silvery shattering
—————of the surface, then, slowly,

their prize’s descent. By the time
——-it reaches them, its mute bewilderment
—————has relaxed into nothingness, and even that

is soon lost to the fever of
——-their feeding. Stripped clean, the husk
—————glides to the pond bed, awaiting its

dredging, rescuing, bleaching,
——-sale. Their memory will be
—————of its gaze and that only:

its watchfulness like a god’s
——-as they circle and finally school.
—————Its unbearable, unbearing patience.

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