Catfish Heart

Beth Suter

of course the fish didn’t want to be in the poem
would rather have been left 
to wallow in the muddy bottoms

its scaleless skin soft against silt
not gutted, its heart left beating on the cutting board
as some lesson to a child

but we were hungry and the image keeps feeding me
how a thing could be so alive and dead
the sharp beauty of after

like how my father’s heart kept beating
after the crash spilled him
through a shattered windshield into the creek—

no one said drunk driving, the old folks called it:
there, but for the grace of God, go I
gin running the generations like water downhill

whatever he meant to show me
in the twitch and pulse of it
I can’t remember        or forget

Beth Suter studied Environmental Science at UC Davis and has worked as a naturalist and teacher. A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, her poems have appeared in Colorado ReviewNew American Writing, Barrow StreetDMQ Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, and others. Her forthcoming chapbook Snake and Eggs was a finalist in FLP’s New Women’s Voices Contest. She lives in Davis, California with her husband and son. You can find her at

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