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A Natural History




Salmon, farmed & wild, lie gill-to-gill

sliced open on white butcher shop ice—

wild twice the size of farmed, one white

the other a deep orange—“it’s Shellfish

they feed on makes them orange”

the Butcher says, shrugging his shoulders

“the wild ones, they eat whatever they want”

everything passing through everything else

(no one shape left alone) always food & self

He points to a seam along the silver scales

“every Fish has one,” he says

“a way in—”



“When I was little,” the woman said

as we stood by the bonfire, our backs to the Woods

“the Butcher would come in his white panel truck

& he & my father go down to the barn…

I led in a Goat, so the Sheep would follow—

hid behind the door as my father swung

a metal pole, crushed the Sheep’s skull—

They butchered it there in the hay, piled it

in a wheelbarrow, balanced the head on top:

‘Take it up to the house, don’t spill it’ he said…

I lifted the handles & the head rolled free, bounced

in the hay—what could I do? but pick it up

by its soft ears, balance it on the bloody bits

& go on?”

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