Tess Liem – Selling It

Poem Author and Title: Tess Liem – Selling It Poem: Men yell at each other at the fish market in Tokyo or so I’m told. I want to be a respectable monger like them. Instead I peddle analogies in which I am a whole catch of Alaskan crabs, creatures susceptible to sea sickness. I live on the floor not in the waves. Meanwhile, men make money throwing tuna around. I travelled to Tokyo once. I ate eel and took pictures of crowds in the street. It felt like a sea, like you could drown pleasantly. But I never got myself to that market. Men with yesterday’s newspaper buy the fresh dead. You have to wake early, you have to line up. It has to be the right season, but you will have a whole day ahead of you if you go. I heard it is exciting and I believe it. I heard when Alaskan crabs are caught, the motion of the boat makes them sick. When I went to Tokyo, you wrote me an email that said wow when you agree to get out of bed you really commit. If one crab gets sick, it releases a chemical, contagious as doubt. That’s what I’m selling. The whole catch and a wish remain underwater on the calm sea floor. Later you asked if I slept through a night & if I learned enough Japanese to understand the price of fish. End of Poem. Copyright Tess Liem Originally appeared in Plenitude, July 2017 Tess Liem’s writing has appeared in the Boston Review, Room Magazine, PRISM, Best Canadian Poetry 2018 and 2019, and elsewhere. Her debut collection, Obits., was nominated for the Lambda Literary Award in 2019 and won the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award for 2019. She lives in Montreal, Tiotia:ke—unceded Haudenosaunee and Mohawk territories. Twitter handle: @eastmiles Plenitude is Canada’s only queer literary magazine. We promote the growth and development of LGBTQ2S+ literature through online publication of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, book reviews, and interviews by both emerging and established LGBTQ2S+ writers. Plenitude aims to complicate expressions of queerness through the publication of diverse, sophisticated literary writing, from the very subtle to the brash and unrelenting.