Sofia Bening

“Come, come! This one just arrive,
so so fresh!
This one snakehead, you skin and boil with cabbage.
Soft chewy meat,
good for brain,
your sons and daughters for sure for sure get 100 points
on all their exams!”

“Just caught and live!
Red snapper!
Smiling sea cucumber!
The Leaping Buddha Turtle!
Bring wealth and prosperity into your home
and into your stomachs
for only $10 per kg.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, now
year of the pig, you know? I see you, you must be
having trouble pleasing spouse. I tell you,
pig have high, high libido.
Pig can fuck all day long,
can probably fuck your wife and husband until rooster shout.
I sell you
feet and penis, $32. Fry with lard.”

“Oi, oi, oi, listen.
I have giant stingray.
They say this one killed and ate a man.
Wow, more protein for you!”

Some come in ginger-yellow gloves and boots
Some in turnip-white aprons
Some leathery and worn, with a cigarette dangling from sun-dried lips
that morph and shapeshift to bring worth to today’s dead.
All come
with a cacophony buzzing like Toshiba television static through the stench
of salted cadavers.

I stop to look at a grouper,
soon-to-be consecrated by scallions and soy.
The cold stone eye seems to blink at me.

I place my hands on my chest to compose myself—
it is black and scaly with an oily sheen.


Sofia Bening is a member of Helicon’s poetry staff, and a sophomore from sunny Singapore studying Journalism and Creative Writing. She’s obsessed with heavy metal, horror B-movies and cats (the animal, but the musical too — yes, even the glorious trainwreck of a movie).