Shark Fishing

OK, pop,
maybe if it weren’t
for you I’d be in that
ocean of debt, with
all the other sad fish,
fending off collecting
sharks, looking for
deeper water, where
I’d make my black silhouette
plain against a white sky—
too visible to the supperless
yellow eyes lurking below.
      Or, maybe you’re the
cage I’m in, making me
a tourist, a sight-seer.  Oh,
look at the sharks, paw,
they look hungry.  Gee, they’re
gnawing on the bars of
this cage, paw.  And then I
give two pulls on the line
and you reel me back up
and ask me what
I thought of it, and whether
I have a job yet.  Still
looking, I say.
      Or, maybe you’re the
boat, and you take me
deep-sea fishing, and
we catch one of those
sharks, one of those blood-
sniffing, two rows of
teeth, rough-sided,
cartilage-thick scavengers.
We fin ‘im for soup—
a delicacy I’m getting
a taste for— & then throw
‘im back over the side
and throttle off, you at
the helm, me at the bow
drinking a rum drink
and listening to
Jimmy Buffett on my
iPod.  Take us into
harbor, pop, I yell
into the wind.
Let’s go have mom
cook us up some of that
shark fin soup,
maybe watch the ballgame,
knock back a few local brews.
      Or, maybe you’re the
land.  Maybe I’ve never even
been in the ocean; I’ve only
read about sharks in books.
You’ve got a big shark’s
jaw in your office and I’ve
reached up to feel the teeth—
so sharp I slice myself.  When
my finger bleeds I suck on it
so I won’t get blood on
your office floor.  Later,
when we go to the beach,
I won’t even go in the water,
though you tell me it’s fine.
Dad, I say, I’m not so sure;
sharks can smell blood from miles away.
But you reassure me,
honestly believing that sharks
don’t come in this close; that
there’s no food for them
around here—no seals, no pups,
no sea lions / no unlucky bastards
without you to go in first, to
give a leg, to sake them on
your back of blood, your scalp,
your good name, your trust—
and anything else I can get
off of you before you’re gone.

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