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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

For Laura Palmer...; How to Gut a Catfish; Edinburgh

By: Amal Haddad

For Laura Palmer and the Ceiling Fan

Laura, when I lived in your house all our lightbulbs blew.

Your room had a closet that ran its length

and bent at the end, so you couldn’t see the back of it.

To be a girl was utter debasement. You,

squinting into an open door. Your mother soothes

white horses in the living room.

Your father has a full head of hair. He tends the law, he

keeps you clean.

Even the backs of your eyes. Even

your hands, in dreams all your nails fall out, in dreams

you grip a blade of the ceiling fan to stop it.

Wake older and alive, spinning.

How to Gut a Catfish

August as a bowknife &

cuts of fish.

You carry stones in your pocket now

for the surface of the creek.

I’m opening a spine for both of us.

Diagonals paralleled behind each fin,

cutting board reds. Once your mother fainted

at the scraps, its caught eye blinked up.

Set the coals. Salt it good &

lick clean. Swear to God,

I’ll only show her if you want me to.


Spring passes through our lungs and spits us out

across an ocean. A finch blooms from my mouth

and into the bonfire on your aunt’s farm, spliced

smoke, fossilized and seizing.

Barreling through Old Town, clutching coat sleeves,

choking up brandy and confessions from two months

ago when I called you dizzy on the floor,

unstitching myself to string you with me.

Sex feels like the time you put a plastic bag over

your head and I was the only one who knew. But

you can’t tell him and I don’t ask why when we

cross the bridge to Prince’s Street.

You say the castle looks like dripping piles of wet

sand we let fall between our fingers last summer,

the night we watched a hurricaned Atlantic

and thought about walking in.

Now we watch the plumes of what’s been done

to us catch lamplight, finite and migratory,

alive in your turned-out eyes, in my feigned forgetting.


Amal Haddad is a junior at Swarthmore College studying Anthropology and English. She was a 2018 Lambda Literary Fellow. Her writing has been recognized by the UK Poetry Society and the Montgomery County Arts and Humanities Council.


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