Kate Mulvaney, Shrivening | Jack B. Bedell

Sometimes women from town tie up
to her dock with fish still fresh
from the water. Before they can tell her

what they need, she slices the fish
from jaw to tail, pulls its organs out
through the gash, and squeezes

its heart. There’s usually enough blood
to draw crosses on all the women’s
brows, enough twitch left

in the fish to last through her prayers.
Garfish are best for this, their blood
old and patient from waiting

in the deepest waters, its stain
thick enough to stay the night.


Jack B. Bedell is Professor of English and Coordinator of Creative Writing at Southeastern Louisiana University where he also edits Louisiana Literature and directs the Louisiana Literature Press. Jack’s work has appeared in Southern ReviewBirmingham Poetry ReviewPidgeonholesThe ShoreCotton XenomorphOkay DonkeyEcoTheoThe HopperTerrainsaltfront, and other journals. His latest collection is No Brother, This Storm (Mercer University Press, 2018). He served as Louisiana Poet Laureate 2017-2019.

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