I Imagine You Dead



The aquarium’s oldest catfish lies belly-up before me,

and I imagine you dead.

Not acrid pills caught in your throat,

like salt swallowed straight,

but what comes after. Your body—


a kind of water. You envy the ocean,

for you possess neither the fury of a whitecap roar

nor the depths in which anglerfish prey.

When we touch, I taste the undercurrent of the Mississippi,

a sudden unmooring, a shape with no anchor, no form.


Before he died, the sea cat’s gray-yellow skin was still

slick. To stroke his unscarred stomach was to reach inside

my own mouth, run a thumb along saliva-smooth gums.

You examine a shark at a distance, and I ache

to circumscribe your body. You are inchoate,


floating; the catfish nears the surface.

You call for an employee, for a removal

before he can transcend. Shark-bidden.

Unbitten. Already,

I miss my fish.


Why do we fear being consumed?

Is this not a form of connection too?

Jamie Logan Benner has served as Managing Editor at The Pinch, Product, and BreakBread magazines. She is pursuing a PhD at the University of Southern Mississippi where she is Associate Editor for the Mississippi Review. She has work published in or forthcoming from the New Ohio Review, Barrelhouse, VIDA Review, Palette Poetry, and elsewhere.