Sleepless, the fish wait
——-for the steer’s head,
—————a ceremony they have learned
——-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.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.