My friend said the skate, flayed, waiting
for the pan, its flesh had stung him;
arm trembling, he slid the fish into the oil
which soon made sweet the flesh,
made soft the bitter Amarone wine,
the bitter greens. Still stinging, he said
while I ate; I ate while mind
slid out the ray-like skate, slid in
a puppy-like ray that surfaced in its tank
at the aquarium—nodding up, and up
for my pat on its soft head: touch, a touch,
yes that is all, a tap a tap, on living skin.
That’s how it is, you see, memory embracing
us as a mother would, watching out, taking care.