Sunday 15 August 2021

Saptarshi Dutt, Poetry 2021 Shortlist


I imagine a gutted fish,
silvery skin gleaming, emptied of itself.
Hands in the sink, metal teeth
raking scales, water running from the tap.
Spine embedded in pale flesh,
translucent fins limp on the cutting board.
Slice ginger, shallots, and chillies;
make cuts on both sides of the carcass.
Drizzle rice wine and soy sauce;
place the whole fish into an enamel dish
and lower onto a metal trivet
perched over boiling water in the wok.
Put the lid on. Set the timer for
twelve slow minutes. The fish is ready
when its eyes turn a blind white.
Each steaming mouthful is salty and sweet.
I am careful to spit out the bones.

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