about the author

Jennifer Bartell is a native of Johnsonville, South Carolina. She is an MFA candidate at the University of South Carolina in Columbia and is an alumna of Agnes Scott College. Her poetry has been published in Jasper Magazine, The Art of Medicine in Metaphors, Letras Caseras, The Double Dealer, 2013, and is forthcoming in A Sense of the Midlands. She is the 2013-2014 Dean’s MFA Fellow and is also a co-editor of Yemassee, USC’s literary journal.


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Scaling

Jennifer Bartell



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A tar-complected river shimmers; its color mirrors that of the fisherman, who slivers through the water. Searches for Bream. Spots. Bass. Croaker. Shad. Treasures his bounty—land-bound. The last bit of water evaporates from their lungs, blacks their eyes. Tiny round translucent rainbows fleck up into the sky. Scales the first fish, cuts it open: cleans the insides out, leaves its head on. Saves the shad’s eggs, to make fried caviar with grits. Ms. Everlina’s Country Caviar: Boil fish roe. Pour water off. Cool. Peel ‘em. Put ‘em in oil. Stir it round. Put a lid on it. Beat 3 or 4 hen eggs with salt and pepper in a bowl. Pour in with roe. Fry the hen eggs with the fish eggs. Disclaimer: Only seasoned women can make this caviar. The sturgeon has nothing on this delicacy. Scales the cankerous colon, cuts her open: cleans the insides out, leaves her head on. He saves the tumors for biopsy stew, with a side of metastasis. A speck for the liver, lungs—the flecks spread.

Waiting for the fish,
in and out of water. In
hot oil and closed rooms.





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