Death Roe

Tuesday, February 23, 2016 - 6:11pm

.

Illustration by Samuel Bertin.

 

They told us

“Keep jumping” -

that the poisonous ink

stamped on our scales 

worked faster 

when stationary. 

 

We splashed 

and swarmed and 

swam upstream 

as fast as our 

barbed-wire 

fins could flip 

to keep from

washing away

forever 

to the other 

side of the tracks;

the side they said 

you never came back

once thresholds were 

crossed, the side where

fire burned water to black,

its soil sooted with ashes. 

 

The ink has since 

faded, screamed 

its sepia tattoo

into my skull.

Now I know that

it was all a trap, a trick - 

that surviving was the 

worst punishment 

imaginable. 

Your fisheye stare 

stuns me like

a star-studded 

camera flash - 

a negative imprint

that burns and 

sears like the 

sunscar of morning. 

 

They congratulate 

me on my strength. 

They don’t know 

I’m constantly 

riddled

with the rivercold 

memory

of being alive

without you.