Dramatic Exit of a Catfish in Shanghai

I watch the delivery man kicking this thing along the sidewalk the way forlorn grade school kids take their loneliness out on deflating soccer balls, except this is a catfish, thigh-sized and longer. It gets in a good crawl, like a belly-aching serpent scraped along the pavement where I almost trip on its bleeding face. It breaks beneath a tree, shallow breathing a succession of small ‘o’s while the delivery men hunchback-walk the crate with all its brothers through the fog-streaked plastic of the restaurant’s drape-skirt doorway. Another fish flails and falls voiceless, surrendering to no one as it scribble-coils to nowhere on the front steps. People pool around them and an old man contemplates how to make off with it. I can see it, the cautious pause in his eyes. But instead we watch death slow-sink itself into these creatures through the gills, wondering if they had legs where they would have gone.

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Charlotte San JuanCharlotte San Juan is by default a Californian poet and by enchantment, an editor of East Jasmine Review. She has previously been published by Solo Novo, Bank Heavy Press, Turbulence, and Cadence Collective, to name a few. When not writing, she plays piano, reads comic books and neglects reality.

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