The Boys in the Fish Shop

Kathryn Simmonds


The Boys in the Fish Shop

Kathryn Simmonds


The Boys in the Fish Shop

The Boys in the Fish Shop

This one winds a string of plastic parsley
around the rainbow trout,
punnets of squat lobster and marinated anchovy,
the dish of jellied eels
in which a spoon stands erect.
He's young - eighteen perhaps
with acne like the mottled skin of some pink fish,
and there's gold in his ear, the hoop of a lure.
The others aren't much older,
bantering in the back room,
that den of stinking mysteries
where boxes are carried.

The fish lie around all day,
washed-up movie stars
stunned on their beds of crushed ice.
The boys take turns to stare
through the wide glass window,
hands on hips, an elbow on a broom,
lost for a moment in warm waters until
Yes darling, what can I get you?
and their knives return to the task,
scraping scales in a sequin shower,
splitting parcels of scarlet and manganese.
Their fingers know a pound by guesswork,
how to unpeel smoked salmon, lay it
fine as lace on cellophane.
A yellow-haired walks past
and the boy looks up,
still gripping his knife, lips parting in a slack O.


from Sunday at the Skin Launderette (Seren, 2008), copyright © Kathryn Simmonds 2008, used by permission of the author c/o Rogers Coleridge & White Ltd, 20 Powis Mews, London W11 1JN

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