susan and me
Fish Dinner at the Beach
1958-2016
by Christine Potter

At first, it was architectural: breaded, oblong, the
color of cedar two by fours, from the wee Alaskan

wilderness of a rented cottage’s freezer. And I was
forbidden to erect fish stick log cabins on my plate,

using tartar sauce for mortar. Next, deep sea fishing—
my father and grandfather with new-caught baskets

of glitter and silver eyes. Lord, don’t TOUCH them!
my grandmother said, stooping to run something

white under the broiler: swordfish. It took ten years to
chew, and lemon just made it sour. Didn’t swordfish

have serrated-knife noses and fight underwater duels?
Seafood in my teens: wild paisley, hippie gems. Hot

pink shrimp. Octopus like purple fists. Iridescent
mussel shells black as turtlenecks. No lobster because

my father was allergic. It reddened his face and two
pimples bloomed on his forehead. You are growing

antennae, said my mother, her joke too dangerous
for me to laugh at. Now, sushi, tidy as a new ring

in its pillowed box. So why am I a bear, wading this
cold and noisy river? My mouth is full of salmon.

PHOTO: The author and her sister Susan next to a statue of Massasoit in Plymouth, Massachusetts (early 1960s).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Fish Dinner At the Beach” started out during a National Poetry Month poem-writing spree with a group of online poet friends. I like to write poetry about being a child (same reason I like to write time travel YA fiction, actually). Also: I really, really like fish. My family went to Cape Cod when I was little to hit the beach, but also to eat fish. These days, my husband and I go to Nova Scotia for the same reason. So it was pure joy working on a poem about growing up from fish sticks into a sushi-eating bear-creature! Which reminds me that I have a little smoked Arctic char in the freezer and it’s time for lunch.

me and elvis

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christine Potter is a poet and YA novelist who lives in the almost-exurbs of the lower Hudson River Valley. Her two full-length poetry collections are Zero Degrees at First Light (2006) and Sheltering in Place (2013). Christine’s poems have appeared in Rattle, Crab Orchard Review, American Arts Quarterly, Rain Town Review, Eclectica, The Literary Bohemian, The Pedestal, and Fugue. The first book of her young adult time-traveling series, Time Runs Away With Her, was released in the fall of 2015, and the next installment, In Her Own Time, is forthcoming from Evernight Teen.

AUTHOR PHOTO: The author with a statue of a young Elvis Presley (Elvis Presley Birthplace Museum, Tupelo, Mississippi).