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Rule 6: Don’t Fuck with the Pancreas

Dance around it, new surgeons, like the delicate

liver or ovary of the Japanese fugu:

My lover ate seven courses of the deadly blowfish

one summer night—sashimi, roe, salad once

the spikes were out. With no known antidote,

the first symptom’s a tingling in its victim’s mouth,

an intoxicating numbness. Prepared live,

scalpeled thin with special knives and petaled

into a chrysanthemum, the funeral flower on a plate,

these puffer fish secrete their own apocrypha,

which, young anglers, will become your pillow talk:

taped mouths scream on the slab, skin winces

at the first slice. But you’ll also learn some truths:

once removed the poison parts are locked

inside a metal box, scraped into a barrel

at the fish market, and burned. And the bodies

of the blowfish? They’re preserved into lanterns

lighting the sidewalks. They’ll follow you home.

from Surgical WingFind more by Kristin Robertson at the library

Copyright © 2017 Kristin Robertson
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.

Published in Kristin Robertson Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.