When It’s That Time for Piranhas

by Michael Derrick Hudson

Featured image: Utagawa Hiroshige. Swallow and Wisteria, mid-1840s. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Everything has already blossomed: my neighbor’s wisteria
has gone hog-wild across the ragged frontier of
our mutual fence, the soft green tendrils
of it violating international borders

and breaking treaties. Achtung! So let me tell you about

my neighbor’s wife: she’s delicious! And every morning
I hear all the birds in Fort Wayne, Indiana, go

Yippee-yee! Yippee-yee! Which is how spring jibber-jabbers
while her husband blows the leafy detritus

off their depilated lawn. Something’s missing. I want to be
indigenous with her, something somehow prehistoric—

I want her in Brazil. I want a quiver full of spindly arrows
to fetch our breakfast’s blue-tailed skink or

supper’s three-toed sloth. I want ritual scarification, coherent
rites of passage. I want grandpa’s thighbone
whittled down to a splinter

and dangling around my neck.
I want to help her stitch banana leaves, scorch
grubs against a rock. I want her to smile at me like a jaguar,

each incisor filed to a point. I want poisonous frogs, seashell
currency, enemies who make sense, a copper
plug through my lip. I want

a shameless squat. I want mumbo-jumbo witches to shun and
screeching ghosts to appease. I want her to take me

down to the river where we’ll knot and
inch our way across. I want her to trust me to be the lookout

for piranhas. I want to know when it’s that time for piranhas.


Michael Derrick Hudson lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana. His poems have appeared in Poetry, Boulevard, Columbia, Fugue, Georgia Review, Gulf Coast, Triggerfish Critical Review and Washington Square. He was co-winner of the 2014 Manchester Poetry Prize. His poems won The Madison Review 2009 Phyllis Smart Young Prize, River Styx 2009 International Poetry Contest, and the 2010 and 2013 New Ohio Review contests.

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