Fish Eyes

by Sharon Wang

Grandpa, seven years I’ve watched you
part the flesh of fish, gouge skin until it gapes
with gills. Your chopsticks trip over fins, scale
the dish for a bony rim. Then it is quick:
the sudden plunge, the pluck of a ripe eye.

“He eats them to cure his blindness,” mother explains
as she clears the dishes. Seven years
since you were packaged across an ocean
in your tiny stained suit, she still says this
every Sunday. I think of the day you went blind,
imagine you stiff-armed as the Cultural Revolution
marched into your lab, swept your chemicals
up with street-brooms. It is hard
to amputate your cane from these images.

Then I imagine mother: crouched, she shells
rice with raw thumbs. She hauls your foot-water
for you at night and cannot study for exams
or go to college or learn chemistry.
Grandpa, you did not eat fish eyes
for thirty-one years to flush out swarming flecks
of white. You ate to pluck out the fishes’ sight.