Your biggest test for being with a man
is not the bundle of soiled clothes in the basket.
Nor is it the toilet seat left in the upright position.
It's certainly not sex.
The answer is always seafood.
He is a fisherman after all.
But he brings you trout with such reproving eyes.
You grimace as he peels the skin with pliers.
Hand flies to stomach
as he grinds into the fish's anus,
severs the creature to the base of the gills,
spreads the abdominal cavity
with steady fingers and thumbs,
removes the bones, the entrails, the fins, the tail,
but leaves that damnable head to last.
You feel like a medical student
observing your first operation.
Nausea grips you from head to gut.
Your job is to sauté the onions and garlic.
But the real work is to stay on your feet
as body parts pile up on a paper towel,
and the remains await the sizzling pan.
And he has to keep turning toward you
as if to coax you deeper into this sadistic ritual
or merely ask the question, "Are we having fun yet?"
This really is an examination
of more than just your beguiling face, choice personality.
And passion won't get you through the night
but a filet knife cuts to the heart of commitment -
or the liver more likely.
You wonder if your resolute stand against getting sick
will someday blossom into love.
Or will it just bring on slithery eels.
Or sloppy squid maybe.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Tau, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Naugatuck River Review, Examined Life Journal and Midwest Quarterly.