The women in the village fish from the stream
with water running through their teeth like whales.
When they catch one, they toss it to shore.
The more they bend to drink, the thicker
their foreheads become. The smaller and redder
their eyes grow.
The mothers come, bringing their sons who shout
with joy and collect the fish from the soft banks.
They will eat them later
with glasses full of cold milk
for their growing bones.
The women keep drinking and tossing
the fish they will not eat. Their teeth become longer
and thinner. Their arms grow shorter and thicker.
The mothers smile and thank them but do not meet
their now tiny eyes or peer to see into the water
flowing through them.
They take the small sticky hands of their children,
and the silver scaled twitching fish,
and they walk back to the village,
maybe telling a story
or singing a song.
The women still drink. At least the water
is cold and clean, and the mothers’ singing
sometimes floats on the breeze
back for them to hear. Sometimes it stays in the air