The Clean Fish

The Clean Fish | www.ravenswork.com

Fisherman’s Wharf, Monterey, California

Late one afternoon, it started to rain, a soft, cold mountain rain, and my dad went into the camper. I walked over to the string of fish, hanging in the lake, to clean them before I went in. I was about half done and grabbed another fish, sliding my fingers through the gills to get a firm grip, and cut straight up the belly and across under the chin. I put my thumb in the slit under the chin, and with one pull, all of the guts came out in one mass of organs and connecting tissue. With the guts in my right hand, I noticed the little heart still beating. I felt it beating. The fish in my left hand, and in the other, the guts and a beating heart, no way to put it back together, soft rain falling, running down my face, the sound closing out the rest of world, I waited and waited, and the tiny heart kept beating and after too long a time it slowed and became less forceful, slower and softer … and it stopped, and the sound of the rain hung in my head, and I threw the hand full of guts to a duck on the lake, and it ate with vigor.