Bovine

By TOM PAINE

 

While eating sardines because they swim for a shorter time in the dying oceans than larger fish and are thus less full of mercury and industrial cocktails (and also because they promote neuroplasticity with all their Omega-three fatty acids, and who doesn’t want to grow new neurons?), and while vigorously churning the sardines with a fork in the can so they didn’t look so suited and ready to swim, I spied a lunula of minute vertebrae dangling from my fork.

Yes, I thought of Darwin and the existential miracle of our ascent from primordial fishiness, but I was really thinking about the fetus we aborted, and if there was a little fish spine like the one hanging from my fork. I magnified the spine through a glass of water. Exquisite. I gingerly set the little spine aside on a plate, took another tentative bite of sardines, and while wondering whether you ever feel we made a mistake, felt a tiny spine adrift on my tongue. I shattered it under bovine molars and swallowed hard.

 

 

Tom Paine‘s poetry is upcoming or published in The NationGlasgow Review of BooksVoltThe Moth (Ireland); FenceBlackbox Manifold (Cambridge); EpiphanyGreen Mountain ReviewForklift, Ohio; Tinderbox; Hunger Mountain; and elsewhere. Stories have been published in The New YorkerHarper’sNew England Review, and The O. Henry Prize Stories and twice in the Pushcart Prize anthology. His first collection, Scar Vegas, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and a PEN/Hemingway finalist. A graduate of Princeton and the Columbia MFA program, he is a professor in the MFA program at the University of New Hampshire.

[Purchase Issue 16 here]

Debbie WenBovine

Related Posts

vaudeville

Before Vaudeville was the Next Big Thing

MARC VINCENZ
So—in they slot and plop in their perfectly/ burnished 180-calorie-sandwiched-glory:/ a delectable mélange well-clothed in filigrees/ of dietary fibers, sodium, zero trans fat/ and generously acidic to keep the heebie-jeebies at bay/

The Common’s 10 Most-Read Pieces of 2018

It seems like a great time to reflect on the pieces that made 2018 an exciting time for us! See what resonated with readers the most in 2018 by browsing the list below to survey our most-read works of the past year: they range from fiction to essays, interviews, and more.

feature photo

December 2018 Poetry Feature

RICHIE HOFMANN
The long curtain opens and I follow.
I lose myself in the exacting rain.
It trickles down scarred blocks of stone.
The church a storage facility for arms.
Sun sears the graffiti.
Bunkers squat unmarked...