May 4, 2009

Charlene Fix

AFRICA PARTY

I eye the fish on the table.
It looks so dry, so dark, so
shriveled that I’m not sure
it is a fish. I only suspect.
But when my neighbor: young,
devoted third-grade teacher,
rips its hide with his fingers
and yanks off flesh to eat on
a cracker, I do too. Ice broken,
so to speak, others eat it now—
ripe old smoky fish, symbol
and sign. For this is a Christian
party to collect money for Africa,
where every day two thousand
children die of malaria, as if
each day the sun comes up,
the towers fall, and down go
two more thousand lives. My
husband cannot bring himself
here, being still in recovery
from grade-school photographs
of “pagan babies” and little
boxes to collect coins to save
“the pagan babies’ souls.” But
I, who spent the green years
running with my own and others’
sacrosanct unchristened souls,
am happy someone’s counting
bodies, and go.

from Rattle #27, Summer 2007

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