The Brush of Water: Ars Poetica

An old chef filleted a large salmon, her blade
separating the loin from its corpse
and I was fascinated by the precision of her cut.
Like a painter’s brushstroke, her lines
revealed the image like spring blossoms,
salmon petals flaring from the spine.
She confiscated tiny bones, the loin
coiling en tresse, weaving pulp
into braids like oil on canvas.
The sizzle of her sear
caramelized her twist, blending
pink into red into brown.
It was that moment I found my palate
of season, cut a fillet to its end.
I was hooked by the art of water.
The woman taught me to broil fish.
I took up a knife and began,
splitting the flesh, working to train my hand.

Matthew Gilbert is a recent graduate from the M.A. program in English Literature at East Tennessee State University. He has served as the 2018-2019 editor of the student-based literary journal The Mockingbird. His work has appeared in Echoes and Images, The Mockingbird, The Red Mud Review, and Delta Poetry Review.

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