Calligraphy

a reed’s silent whistle flits
to catch a swallow
in its throat. it begs to be
slaughtered, whittled
down, begs me to wring out
its blood into the river’s
beak, flinching, flint-brittle
beneath my palms, embers. now, perched
in the tiny red of my canoe, i stop
counting furrows in the water’s
ribs for threading oars like abacus
pearls. my fishing rod lies, shedding
its skin on my feet in the fading
dry. after the dusk-purple of hours
starts clambering to blue, they start
crumbling the current, biting, fetishizing
sparks flaking from its prey’s bare heels, fleeing
the surface for my hands. i haul
them through water-warrens, letting them wrinkle
as they land, writhing and ink-blinding like dried
suns fracked of blood, shivering
in the teeth-chattering, throat-gnawing, shanty-shaking
bottom of the boat; they claw
at me, heels, hands, hair, shelling
me over sheets, sanded down by river… a fleeting tingle
on a reed’s parched tongue

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