I’m behind the deli counter, surveying
you through the pickle jar. With water,
with vinegar, with redblack peppercorns
seasoning the mixture in which you swim,
you solicit eight ounces of tuna. Five
is all I have to offer. True there’s some
in the back, true too I loathe to keep
flesh from you but my own numbered
bones aren’t much wider than those I slice
and though you’ve spun worthy tales of life
on rainless land, my archival mitts are off
today, my fish gloves on. To think in terms
of weight is unbecoming though I love
the paper used to wrap, the thick white
tape to match. You clutch the ounces
that I pass across a counter much too tall
for us. Your teeth aligned along
an orthography of thanks, you pay
from dollars tightly clipped together,
close as thieves but not as thick.
We finish the day in the presence of the same
red flesh, culled from the same cut form.
I sear mine and share it, the center a sailor’s
delight. Your ounces perch upon a shelf,
forgotten and not quite what you had in mind.
The tuna’s redness ages, and maroons.