Great White Sharks Must Move Forward to Breathe
She’s to the point where every highway garbage bag
or blown-out tire is an animal
to mourn. The scenes are a trick of the eye,
a catch and jump of her chest
landing heavy. The line of sight moves
back and forth between true and history.
500 remain off the South African coast,
3,500 total. Making the great white more endangered
than the tiger. She’s never seen one
gliding behind glass, because no aquarium can keep one.
No longer able to reach 15 mph
without space and something to chase, the creature passes
again and again away. Sometimes reaching 20 feet
of despair and relief. She is landlocked and can do
nothing for the shark. Nothing for the flattened animals
on the roads around her house—too many
to be mistaken, mistake,
All of those facts
merely best guesses from the best available angle
at a certain moment. The fiction
of grief doesn’t settle her stomach, knowing
an actual dead body lies somewhere, in final display
of perfect timing.
What if it’s the teenage boy next door
who will grow up and regret it? What if
it’s not or he won’t? Sometimes the act of watering
the potted plants seems impossible, excess
shed to concrete. What if the concentration
should be on the little dog who stops at every puddle
for a drink?
Read one poem by Natalie Young also appearing in Terrain.org.
Header photo by Fiona Ayerst, courtesy Shutterstock.