A Good Fish
by Beth McDermott

      after Derek Sheffield

I couldn’t not change. Did you hear the names I would call you? Does it matter if I honestly believed them?

And still you felt sorry for me while I underwent self-improvement. What’s this sympathy that society keeps regenerating, consciously or unconsciously? Where is it sourced? There’s nothing essential about it, even though some people might be more naturally sympathetic. But at what point is that code for socially constructed fear? I once ordered branzino, and it arrived in an egg-shaped pewter dish, its face tilted towards the kitchen as if the old fishing boat had been an open-mouthed smile.

Packingtown Review – Vol.15, Spring 2021

Beth McDermott's chapbook, How to Leave a Farmhouse, was published by Porkbelly Press. Recent poetry, reviews and criticism appear in Kenyon Review Online, Tupelo Quarterly, and The Trumpeter. She is currently an Associate Editor with RHINO and an Assistant Professor of English at the University of St. Francis. She lives in the southwest suburbs of Chicago.

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