Startling Poetry: The Gutting

Saw this on Facebook and was riveted.

The Gutting by Beck Cooper

It is said,

he who holds the hook

is aware in what water many fish are swimming.

I was full once,

before the night he gutted me.

The night I heard my own “no”

echo into his cavernous, moaning mouth;

and even then I was only a fish

and what else was I good for but an easy catch?

I should have known better

than to swim alone along such a dark and foreign shoreline

where grown men with rolled up sleeves

reach beneath the surface groping the river

for something alive,

something to turn into meat.

He did not look like a fisherman,

his clothing was not soaked in the blood of prey

nor did he smell of the sea.

I mistook him for a lighthouse,

something innocuous.

He must have slipped the hook down my throat

as he brushed my hair behind my ear,

bought my second gin and tonic.

It is customary to keep fish wet until you scale them.

I was so taken by the act of being chosen,

I didn’t notice the pierce,

blood drip behind my tongue.

And this is my story:

I let a man spread open my abdomen

reach inside, bypass my refusal,

remove parts of me and scoop them into his bucket.

The thing about being raped I need you to understand

is that it doesn’t always happen on concrete.

Sometimes, the gutting takes place inside of a bedroom.

Sometimes, it is accompanied by kind words and wet lips.

Sometimes, it is easier to believe you deserve it,

to believe you owe it to him,

to wake up the next morning and serve him the pulp of you

he scraped from your bones on a breakfast tray with a glass of orange juice;

and let him walk you home holding your hand.

And when you arrive at your front door,

remove the hook from your throat

and with a sore and grateful tongue thank him

for choosing to catch and release.

Even now, in the retelling, what I would give to tell you I was a python

coiling around the flesh of his neck

wringing the life out of him slowly.

What I would give to tell you I was an alligator, hyena, grizzly bear

anything but a fish;

anything that doesn’t go down without a fight.

What I would give to tell you I spit on him, pushed him off of me,

carved into his abdomen with my own teeth.

But I am only a fish

and what else is a fish good for but to be consumed

even on the holiest of Lent

without ever breaking his fast.

And now, the first man since the gutting

to bring me into his bed

peels back my scales to find me empty.

My liver, kidneys, tongue, heart removed;

my body stitched from gill to pelvic fin;

my eyes cloudy and sunken.

Underneath his sheets he thrusts into me,

asks me, “What’s wrong?”

if it’s his fault.

Asks me why I’m lying there, lifeless, like a dead fish.

Discuss Amongst Yourselves

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s