Mr. Fishy

Photos and Text by Jasper Lo

The sixth poem in the collection To Go To Macau. See the first one here.

To Go To Macau is a collection of poetry. You can categorize it in both genres of cookbook and memoir, your typical Good Morning America grandmother combo. This collection attempts to answer opposing questions two SIPA students have asked me: by a Chinese student during orientation, "But you're not really Chinese right?" and by an American student at a SIPA happy hour, "You were born here? Are you American?" Within these two questions, I explore themes of diaspora, violence, masculinity, race, and migration. 

The menu (translator):

Mr. Fishy

Roasted ducks hang on the top row – greasy steam
cabbage smell hidden within it,

here a pig’s brain
hanging from a hook.

Decked out in my little shirt and little shorts,
my private school gym uniform
provides no splatter shield from the offerings of the market.

Are gristle, organs, and flesh OK
if offered for discount value?

Here I am again, misting rain dripping from my lip
gunboats in the distance
bottom fishing in the bay.

I follow the fish’s sharp fins
then squeeze my hands around it
pincer my slippery fingers on the hook.
But in my kindness, I loosen
and its fins open
–spiked hairs against the grain
slip my palm open
my shredded pale skin, uneventful
before blood blossoms.

What’s considered a stress disorder
and what’s considered a bargain?

A fish in a wet market is exposed,
its tail and head visible
midsection naked to its spine and gray flesh
–snatched suddenly by the monger
who pauses as the scale reaches symmetry.

A buoy over there
in the river estuary
orange and still.

The waters in Macau are still.

Fragments of refracted light
a Christmas spectacle of porcelain in the bay
–trawls float