Pretending to Understand

Michael Minassian


I found a house
by the seashore,
where the light
filled the windows
with the smell
of the ocean,

and in the kitchen
the woman I loved
stood cleaning fish,
cutting off the heads
in one smooth blow

while I sliced onions,
my tears salting the bread.
“Crying won’t help,” she said,
placing the fish
in hot oil and turning
them once. “The skin
falls off,” she said,
“if the temperature
is just right.”

I squeezed a lemon,
the flesh of the fish
flaking off, tasting
of sunlight.

Tomorrow the sun
will rise again,
and it will be her
turn to cry
while I cook breakfast
at just the right temperature,
pretending to understand.


Michael Minassian's poems have appeared recently in such journals as The Broken Plate, Comstock Review, Exit 7, Redactions, and Third Wednesday. He is also a Contributing Editor for Verse-Virtual, an online magazine. Amsterdam Press published a chapbook of his poems entitled The Arboriculturist in 2010.