as a child,
I told my babysitter
I was allowed to feed the fish,
which I wasn’t.

I killed them all
by feeding them too much.
They didn’t know better.
They ate themselves to death.

every time I touch another hand,
shaking tendons meeting another—
I tell them yes, I am allowed to do this.
I put behind my back the bloodied
fingers of previous companions,
smile with slanted teeth,
ignore sharpened molars.

I tell them yes,
I have never offered myself onto an altar,
naked self oiled and ready for consumption.
I have never buried myself alive
in order to keep them above land.
I have never lain in bed,
curled like a cut fingernail,
wishing the sea would come and
take me gently,
coax me onto the shores
where there are no more hands.

I tell them,

I am allowed to feed the fish.