I’m speaking of the fish you heist inside
that fat backpack, seven pounds of salmon
and cod packed fresh in ice — fish-water trails
your thighs, calves (between riverbanks of hair),
pooling at the heels, soaking your boots like
the forced stench of another’s perfume.

Last week you were a makeup artist, perfume
specialist, hair stylist. Now you work inside
the fishery, sleep in a stinky tent, like
students who hitch to Homer on break. Salmon
are easy. Lop off the head, tail (just like hair
at the salon). Leave the skin, slice a trail

down the silver length. You’ve trailed
your fingers through spiral perms, tested perfume
behind the ear. Why not shower (your hair
reeks)! Grab a cod. Dig those fingers inside,
not as slimy as some may think. Salmon-
halves flopping open into a part, like

hair when let loose from a rubber band, like
the heart split open in love. Your trail
of broken hearts is sweeping. Your task (salmon,
part the width) repeats — gashes raw, pink, perfume
of the fish turned sweet. The air grows wet inside
the factory, as does your knife, your hair

(tied at the nape). Your knife is radiant (hairs
split). This week you love to slice, stand, can fish, like
to work with your hands, long hours inside,
repetitive tasks. Next you’ll hit the trail
again, hop trains, part jewels from perfumed
ladies in wool feathered hats, your salmon

knife flattened on the train tracks. Salmon
shouldn’t be canned anyway, you’ll say. If hair
grew on restless hearts, yours would afro. Perfume
of wanderlust dizzying, flowery like
headlights (bleary-eyed) — two beams trailing
to the surface through the ocean’s dark insides.

A salmon apart from the shoal like
snipped hairs swept in floorboard cracks. The heart’s trail
is unclear. Follow the perfume. Lead me inside.