A LESSON IN HUNGER
I lead him down to water's edge.
Beside us, the Pagoda rises
incongruous in the Texas heat.
We are here first in the Japanese Gardens,
the illusion of zen beside highway.
I am taking my son to feed the fish.
Mouth upon mouth, they erupt
from the murky water, bodies
completely exposed, all for just one
pellet of sour smelling fish food.
Greedy, lips agape, shaped in tiny
Orgasmic Os, they are orange and black,
slimy, shedding scales against each other
in their fight for the bobbing pearl
of god know's what. One has only one
eye. Another, a missing side fin.
They beat each other senselessly,
because they themselves are only senses,
driven by acute desire—taste and sound.
Like something out of Dante's Hell,
they are the circle of Gluttony. I want
to call them beautiful. And they are,
in a way. Terrifyingly so.
Id and earth and savage hunger.
Mindless beings bright as ornaments
on a Christmas tree, vicious
as prize fighters.
My son throws only one pellet at a time.
Aim for the little one, I say.
And he lobs the food into the fray
aimlessly (he's only two) where it promptly
disappears into the mouth of a giant Koi.
High Yah, he says and throws another.
Andrea Luttrell received her MFA from NYU in 2004 where she was awarded the Spring Fellowship. While at NYU, she served as co-editor-in-chief for Washington Square: The Literary Journal of NYU's Graduate Creative Writing Program. She has received a Tin House fellowship to attend the Summer Literary Seminars in Russia. Her work has been published in Painted Bride Quarterly and Le Den of Infamy. Most recently, her poem “Housekeeping” was published as a limited-edition broadside by Saucebox Book Arts.