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By Cindy King

I remember the last time I had fish.

It was at a waterfront restaurant

with my mother.

I ordered a cocktail.

My mother brought her own—

a pharmacological rainbow

she shook from what looked to me

like a little plastic coffin.

It was a Saturday or Sunday

when the fish was placed before me,

and when I ran my knife down

the silver length of its body,

it opened its mouth.

Sit up straight, I heard it say,

and elbows off the table

though that was decades ago

and it could have come

from my mother’s mouth.

My mother is a fish now, like

the one in the Faulkner novel.   

You are what you eat, they say.

I have become a vegetarian

instead of becoming my mother.


Cindy King is the author of Zoonotic (2022), Lesser Birds of Paradise (2022), and Easy Street (2021). She has published in Threepenny Review, The Sun, Callaloo, North American Review, Prairie Schooner, Cincinnati Review, and elsewhere. She is an associate professor of creative writing at Utah Tech University and an editorial associate at Seneca Review. She also screens scripts for The Blank Theatre in Hollywood, CA.

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