after Jonathas de Andrade

When a man traps a fish
he removes the hook from its side
and once it has beaten its fright
into the wooden boat with its strongest slaps
he will clutch the fish to his chest
and hold it as it struggles
he will hold it in the tender air
He will hold its tail as if it were his dance partner’s waist
and gaze into the fish’s face for many minutes

When a man seizes a fish, he soothes it
caresses its whole body tip to tip
while it thrashes bloody against his bare chest
He will clasp the fish with one hand
like a newborn
and hush its gasping with the other
With love he will tuck it under his chin
so he can feel its heartbeat
in the insistent heat that hangs above the water

Remember: when a man captures a fish
he will seduce it while he slaughters it
the strength of his love can’t be simulated
the sound of the green water can’t be simulated
he will kiss the wheezing gills
his kisses can’t be simulated
he will hold it as it struggles
that little death
he will hold it in the tender air