When the Beloved Asks, “What Would You Do If You Woke Up and I Was a Shark?”
My lover doesn’t realize that I’ve contemplated this scenario,
fingered it like the smooth inner iridescence of a nautilus shell
in the shadow-long waters of many 2 a.m.s—drunk on the brine
of shoulder blades, those pale horns of shore I am wrecked upon,
my mind treading the wine-dark waves of luxuria’s tempests—
as a matter of preparedness, and because I do not sleep for fear
of such things, and even other things—I’ve read that the ocean
is a large pot of Apocalypse soup soon to boil over with our sins—
but a thing is a thing, especially if it’s a 420-million-year-old beast,
especially if you have wronged as many as I. Beauty, it is simple,
more simple than a beloved can imagine: I wouldn’t fight, not kick,
flail, not carry on like one driven mad by the black neoprene wetsuit
of death, not like sad-mouthed, despair-eyed albacore nor blubbery
pinnipeds, wouldn’t rage the city’s flickering streets of Ampullae
of Lorenzini, nor slug my ferocious, streamlined lover’s titanium
white nose, that bull’s-eye of cartilage, no, I wouldn’t prolong it.
Instead, I’d place my head onto that dark altar of jaws, prostrated
pilgrim at Melville’s glittering gates, climb into that mysterious
window starred with teeth—the one lit room in the charnel house.
I, at once mariner, at once pirate, would navigate my want by those
throbbing constellations. I’d wear those jaws like a toothy cilice,
slip into the glitzy red gown of penance, and it would be no different
than what I do each day—voyaging the salt-sharp sea of your body,
sometimes mooring the ports or sighting the sextant, then mending
the purple sails and hoisting the masts before being bound to them.
Be-loved, is loved, what you cannot know is I am overboard for this
metamorphosis, ready to be raptured to that mouth, reduced to a swell
of wet clothes, as you roll back your eyes and drag me into the fathoms.