In history class, instead of loaves & fishes, we find fishes
& flowers. we watch a leftover pot of milkfish
porridge, cold stillness shrouded by proffered
petals on one stolen morning. we catch dew-struck
leaves scattered among whispers slipped from
a mother to a daughter, we touch severed stems
decorating slick gills. we call ourselves surgeons,
tenderly take pistils & stamens. we set aside splayed
guts to save for a future, dulled knives peeling off fat
from scraped bones. always, we refrain from comment.
feel how thorns prick skin & salt douse fins, all for us
to marvel at every preservation, devise new instruments
for bodies to observe body. teachers call these processes
methodical: how we must carefully trace rose curves, measure
tail ends with gentle precision, display sepals until perfectly
proportioned. with linear chalk marks swim breaths of half-
meted prayers, scales bloom from paper cuts drawn
on skin, in depths we make from a single bated answer
a home. and so, this class of students awaits, hooked
and enamored. each of us, a piece of bait peering
into the mouth of a fish & plucking a flower
held between its teeth.
Jessica Hsu is an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan. She grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. When they're not writing poetry, they enjoy running and playing music.
See more of Jessica's work in 11.2