Too small to be truly nutritious,
too small to be fileted effectively,
the silver bodies braid themselves in the tin
in a routine reminiscent of Busby Berkely,
silver hats, silver umbrellas, this is what beautiful means:
it means being something else,
it means having the right accessories.
So what a display, these sardines,
little fins glinting placidly
in tomato sauce, in oil.
They have no heads -- lost them,
I suppose, in the cannery's wild dervish,
but the tail is tucked under,  demurely,
limp and dripping all for effect now --
no fish will swim out of this situation! --
all for dribbling sauce down
someone's satisfied chin.
Someone's tiny Poseidon's fork stabs
the apparently firm body.
The bones, soft from the rigors
of heat and tomato, can't support the real strain,
the fishy body, its illusion breaks;
imperfect, guts exposed, we eat them anyway.