Sushi
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Is it nigiri – is it succulent fish,
or buttery-smooth egg, spongey?
Or shrimp laid flat, open
on a thumb-thick roll
of pristine white rice
sticky, tacky, an oval white
of vinegar and labor
laid before you
on a plate?

Plop it in your mouth. Lay aside the chopsticks –
this rice is meant for holding
between sticky fingers
and for filling your belly
so you do not indulge too deeply
on the smooth fatty taste
umami, that is what it is called –
of salmon belly.

Or is it sashimi? Or is it rolls
doused in seaweed (sometimes not)?
Rolls, go at with your chopsticks –
do not divide them. They are prepared
so perfect
ready to be eaten
and need no more preparation.

Seaweed. And salmon belly, and white vinegar rice.
Did you know that
there are little fish
– like minnows, but not –
that swim in the reedy rushes
of those stepped-hill rice farms?
It is a flooded cranberry bog, there
and so many things live among the reeds:
birds, plants
watersnakes, mice
people, fish
touching, seeing, scouring
the knee-deep water
warm as a bath
muddy like a rain-puddle,
caressing the rice
with little kisses
before it is slain, bound, shipped away in boxes
from the green-stepped-hills flush with sunlight,
bleached, processed, burned white
fattened with water and vinegar
brought again to life with fish
but never kissed, only lain aside with ginger
touching shoulders with fallen scaly giants
before
finally
eaten.

Yes, I do like sushi. it is my favourite food. How did you guess?

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