Two Poems

By Lek Borja



How to Gut A Fish With Bare Hands

I can’t remember the last time I watched her
gut a fish. My mother said
do not look in the eyes, as if looking
could make you lose intent.
My father never said I love you
to her. She showed me how to spear
my hands through to get close
to the heart, the mouth with its dissolving
tongue. She said fish was my father’s favorite
thing to eat, then split the flesh in half
open and exposed the bones. Everything inside
is the stuff you don’t want, she continued,
and tore them all out. On the day he left,
he didn’t say goodbye, only cussed at her like he always did
on his way out. Fuck you. Bitch. Unexpectedly, I love you,
and took her faith with him. She let his last words soak in
like blood from the gills accrued under her fingernails, and
I saw how so much of what was contained inside
the fish needed to be removed.



As knuckles harden and harden
as a ridge,
as a cheekbone,
              smooth as the rim
              of the mouth. Open
as flesh,
as fist,
as big,
as fear,
as deep,
             the gash, as red,
                          the tourniquet, as wet as tears,

as warm
            as touch can feel, the woman yearns
                          as a man has urges,

as common
             as a no-way out,
                            that’s what love is.
After the hit, wounds.—
After the hit, silence.—
A silence after a hit. Wounds heal
after a hit. Do not be silent,
she tells herself,

Lek Borja was born in the Philippines and emigrated to the U.S. when she was ten years old. Her artworks have been exhibited in galleries nationally, including Anne Marie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center, Towson University’s Asian Arts Gallery, Los Angeles Municipal Gallery, The Loft at Liz’s, among others. Her writings have appeared in national and international journals such as The Lantern Review, San Francisco Press' Lady Jane Miscellany, and Society for Curious Thought, to name a few.