Caroline Chavatel is an M.F.A. candidate at New Mexico State University where she works as Assistant Poetry Editor of Puerto del Sol. Her work has appeared or will appear in The Cossack Review (2016 October Prize for Poetry winner), phoebe (2017 Greg Grummer Poetry Award finalist), Gulf Coast, Fugue, Hayden's Ferry Review, Nimrod, Sugar House Review and Epoch, among others. She currently lives in Las Cruces, NM.
teach a man to fish…
In my throat hangs a man; he’s got a rhyme
to catch. He’s scraping my insides with his
pocketknife, hoarding scraps to take
home. Even men, I’m told, don’t stick
around to watch their
work. In my body, there used to be
a river and now the river is flooding and
there’s no way to know what is water.
There’s not a name that fits
this (when everything is river).
It deposits into the hall, confusing
the patients but they all carry on, occasionally
biting the sediment. They call this visiting hours,
name and address. I am always filling out forms
to prove I exist and don’t. I am always waking
up and inserting coins into a machine for
inevitable goods like magic. In my throat
is yesterday’s blood, a question
mark begging for breakfast. In my throat is
a fishbone from yesterday’s meal, stuck
in the ridges, asking for its mother. Every
night, in a dream, I walk to the fish
market where the boys and their knives swipe
the air, my eggs. Say, how much for the roughy? I say
like I know what I’m talking about.
How to get men to take you
seriously: discuss dead animals. He maneuvers
his hands. Only ice below the fish. It must remind them
of the necessity of pressure. Instead of saying this,
I say, thank you. In the hot-tented
afternoon, you can hear the boys roaring, what else,
what else you got and what else? How much?
Concern is always tied to amount. He says
there will be none; no fertile, tasty eggs.
They poke the eyeballs out, trash
the scales, and wait for them
to be hauled out in buckets. Waking
from this dream, the nurse tells me to watch
my language like it belongs to me. She says to watch
my body and take care of it. She says it is time
for them to clean, gut, scale, and skin me. Waking from this
dream, no one is congratulated; no one looks up from my knees.