What Catches the Light | poem

What Catches the Light

I press the handle of a knife into his hand
and he scrapes the shimmer of salmon,
the red flesh face down against his palm,
where the scales collect like sooted snow.

He speaks with a voice low like dusk,
wipes the blade clean with his fingers
tells a story of the Red Sea, thick with fish.
When he mentions his father, his heart

thickens in his throat, and when we get to his own blood
count how many years we’ll have together.
A sea of blood, his blood, antibodies
swimming in his veins.

I can’t remember the names of the fish,
only how he scrapes with a surgeon’s precision,
feeling for what he cannot see but knows is there

preparing this meal for us
while the sky silvers outside the window
and he talks about death
but I think he is talking about love.

[With gratitude to the editors at Red Paint Hill Journal, who originally published this poem.]