Weekly Write: “Limit” by David Magill


Fish guts on the Sunday paper, one of my favorites,
Herman, covered by an eye and some gills.
She tells him it’s too sharp for me but
he ignores her and hands me another sunfish.
I work it under the tail and slide it along the spine,
careful of the meat under the skin.
He guts another one and shows me the eggs; I nod
and rinse the fillet in a steel bowl.
She sees blood on my hand and protests again,
but I have learned to ignore her, too, as long
as he is with me and I am busy.
The smell is acrid for a moment but it passes,
the scent of my father’s cigar cutting through
the scales and the blood and the guts.
“Will them hogs eat the heads?”
“They’ll eat anything you throw over the fence. Don’t forget
to bring them bowls back.”
I stood by the pen and looked at them.
I hadn’t given them names yet.
I wondered if they’d ever get a chance to eat
fish heads

without me.
I threw one far over their heads
so they would go away
and then dumped the rest inside the fence.
I didn’t want to see those fish die twice.
I heard the air compressor roar to life
and went and got the hose.
Summer was a short walk


David Magill, born in Kansas City, Missouri, moved to Minnesota as a young boy and grew up on a hobby farm in Afton. He has been married to his wife, Patti, for 23 years. His work has recently been published in Metonym,The Esthetic Apostle, and Cagibi.



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