Fish – Jacob Dunning

Fish

The slimy, putrid smell of victory Fish

Is heavy in my nose.

The sum total of the day’s work wriggles in my hands

Still trying to gasp for breath in an alien environment.

Wishing its self able to take in oxygen, and survive, through sheer persistence.

I allow myself a cocksure grin, and do my best to make it look

Like the beautiful, disgusting thing I hold isn’t difficult to keep

Above my head.

(The boy next to me is my cousin.

He tries his best to hold his fish above mine,

And I don’t protest, as mine is the larger.

It occurred to me, in a rare moment of youthful insight,

That once in a while it’s a good thing to hold your fish

Slightly lower than your cousins.)

The thick, filmy ooze begins to creep

Down my arm.

The fish struggles, with one final attempt to find its way

Back to some unseen body of water.

The queasy lotion coats my forearm now, and

I suppress a triumphant shudder.

I feel it stop squirming, and surrender its life to me.

I’ve owned it for hours.

But accepting death is a curious thing.

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