September 1, 2014 by The Citron Review

by Donna Vorreyer 


We bait hooks with bloody hunks of beef and plunk them in the mighty Amazon, brown as creamed coffee. My husband and I trail our lines, search the water for the telltale churning. I get a bite and tug my pole, feeling superior, but everyone laughs as I net a sardine.

Dennis, nine years old and grinning like a predator, pulls the first piranha. Julio expertly pinches the heads to remove the hook, avoiding the razor teeth. Half an hour later, the bulkhead holds two dozen fish, orange bellies fading to gray, jaws jutting forward like stubborn children. Julio laughs, pokes Dennis in the belly. “We’ll cook them for your lunch,” he says.

We return, rest in hammocks, then walk toward the mess, ready to eat. Julio grins and disappears into the kitchen. He returns with a platter of fish, ringed with hinged jawbones and dainty dagger teeth. We spoon the fish and vegetables over rice, its flavor unusually sweet.

I cannot recall if I’ve ever eaten an animal that eats other animals. I try not to dwell on being a second-hand cannibal – the thought both disgusts and thrills. Dennis, proud of his catch, parades the platter of jaws around the room, his vanquished prey. We pocket the tiny skulls as souvenirs.

Later that night, I lie under mosquito netting, wings of bats or birds fluttering above me in the beams. In the darkness, I imagine my skin changed, covered with scales of orange that fade to gray, imagine tiny rings of triangular teeth opening and closing inside my stomach, gnawing me awake.


Donna Vorreyer is the author of A House of Many Windows (Sundress Publications, 2013). Her work has appeared in many journals including Rhino, Linebreak, Cider Press Review, Stirring, Sweet, wicked alice, and Weave. Her fifth chapbook, We Build Houses of Our Bodies was released in late 2013 by Dancing Girl Press, and her second poetry collection is forthcoming from Sundress Publications in 2016. 


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