The poem

The Architect

by Claire Collison

He slams the eel
on a nail he’s hammered
into wood outside,

hammered to the wall
of the hut by the lake,
where the nets, where the traps, where they caught —

He slams the eel
onto the nail in the wood
with his fist outside the house

that’s a boat
(they live on a boat by a lake,
but not on the lake).

They sweat in a sauna on the edge of the lake,
ladling pine water to steam as they sweat
pine sweat.

The wood is pine, the hut is pine,
on a lake,
in a pine wood.

Inside, they carve bowl inside
bowl inside bowl,
to a nest of curve and grain —

to the smallest, so all they lose
is a plug that fits a night light: fire
inside wood inside;

outside, lake and wood,
a jetty and a motor boat;
plastic floats

to mark the nets
he used to trap
the eel he will peel.

He slams the eel on the nail,
cuts an incision below
the slit, wraps a collar

of newspaper for purchase, tugs
down, like a bell ringer — both hands,
tears the silver black.

The skin comes off in one.

Claire Collison is a writer, artist and educator whose work spans photography, poetry, performance, installation, and participatory events. More info at clairecollison.com. The above poem was a prize-winning entry in the inaugural Resurgence Poetry Prize in 2015

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