Issue 29 | Spring 2022

Self-Portrait as a Trout

How often I have played the part of this poor fish
skewered by a barbed hook it mistook
for something benign
lying here on this bloody board
mouth and gills opening and closing
tail still trying to rudder it to safety.
It’s no use.

My father wants to show me how to clean my catch.
His long fingers with their carefully tended nails
insert a sharp, pointed knife, deftly
into the belly of the fish, just behind the gills.
An unrepentant assassin, he draws the blade
swiftly back toward the tail.
Pale pink coils tumble onto the board.

He eases the flesh from the bone
then from the skin, produces two
perfect fillets he will dip into milk
dredge in flour
then fry in his favorite pan
hanging above us from an iron hook.
Still, I watch for barbs.

Filed under: Poetry

Bonnie Wehle’s work has been published in Heron Tree Literary Journal, River Heron Review, HerWords/Black Mountain Press, Valley Voices, Red Rock Review, Sky Islands Journal, and elsewhere. Her chapbook of poems in women’s voices is forthcoming (Summer 2022) from Finishing Line Press. Bonnie lives in Tucson, Arizona, where she serves as a docent at the University of Arizona Poetry Center and facilitates a monthly poetry discussion group with the County Library.