Consider instead a body that begins, from zero, sans mains
and imagine then that there are bodies—one body, next to
another body, next to another body, until infinity, and all of them,
without hands. This is an act, the act of lining up the bodies.
We risk nothing and the poet risks nothing. To line up the bodies
is to make it obvious: the poet wants to speak to us of violence, but we
are dense and she knows this; we have come here looking for something
more beautiful than violence and she knows this too, and so the poet offers us language
in the currency of fish. To speak of fish is to destroy the hands of others.
It is better to imagine bodies without hands,
the way we think of fish at market.
To us, the smell of fish
is better.

Now, imagine that the fish lined up until infinity are the bodies of our mothers.
What we imagine next will be guided by this small but otherwise critical fact
and on this some of us will be affected instantly, while others will have to wait for
another time, and yet it is all the same in the end: if we have mothers who are dead,
what we imagine will be dead. This is the poet confirming parameters of craft:
no poem has the power to kill and no poem can bring anyone back from the dead.
Those of us imagining dead fish do so because our mothers are dead. And we are happy—
happy to imagine our mothers as fish, even dead ones, because
It is better to imagine our mothers without hands,
the way we think of fish at market.
To us, the smell of fish
is better.

Of course, the opposite will be true if our mothers are alive.
Take the poet’s mother, as an example; she is very much alive, and
is, at this moment, very near the sea, will only ever be very near it, never
in it because she fears water. Here, the poet stops to make a point:
what is important is not that my mother fears water, but that
no one is forcing her to leave land
. And so the poet imagines a fish
out of water because life has limits; at its limits everything is laid out—one body,
next to another body, next to another body, from zero, to infinity, sans mains.
It is better to imagine bodies without hands,
the way we think of fish at market.
To us, the smell of fish
is better.

than the smell of our mothers’ bodies, dead or dying.