Sometime at dusk, an unremarkable authority tells us that my brother is presumed dead. A fact that has no body. Like barbarians, we sheepishly ask for a recommendation for a place to eat. Though we know it’s in poor taste, we continue to hunger. We go to the sushi restaurant the hotel concierge says is renowned. We take off our shoes. The chef says he can prepare blowfish safely and we take him at his word. A warning on the menu says that fugu prepared incorrectly can cause numbness, paralysis, and even death due to a neurotoxin called tetrodoxin. We eat the blowfish and mid-swallow I am sluggishly floating, gulping, my entire underside expanding. The table next to us complains I’m getting spines in their food. I apologize profusely and tell them that I have yet to cry, that this effect is quite unexpected. They are sitting under a signed photograph of Taylor Swift who appears to gyrate in the waving of my pectoral fin. They say, this is not a place for you to puff up like that. I take a sip of sake, to relax, and my body begins to shrink, but only slightly. I beseech the chef, is there anything that can be done? He pauses, blade hovering a marbled tuna belly. He lays down his knife two-handed, like an offering, and looks deep into my unclosing mouth. At last he says, Though I can see the delicacy of your being, there is no way to get it. Poison is now the blood of you.
Amber Adams is a poet and counselor living in Longmont, Colorado. Her debut collection, Becoming Ribbons (Unicorn Press, 2022), was a finalist for the X.J. Kennedy Prize and semifinalist for the Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize. She received her MA in Literary Studies from the University of Denver, and her MA in Counseling from Regis University. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry Magazine, Poetry Northwest, Narrative, Witness, 32 Poems, Birmingham Poetry Review, War Literature and the Arts Journal and elsewhere.
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