“The Shark” By Mary Oliver

The Shark

 The domed head rose above the water, white

as a spill of milk. It had taken the hook. It swirled,

and all they could see then was the grinding

and breaking of water, its thrashing, the teeth

in the grin and grotto of its impossible mouth.

The line they refused to cut ran down like a birth cord

into the packed and strategic muscles.

The sun shone.

It was not a large boat. The beast plunged

with all it had caught onto, deep

under the green waves—a white

retching thing, it turned

toward the open sea. And it was hours before

they came home, hauling their bloody prize,

well-gaffed. A hundred gulls followed,

picking at the red streams,

as it sang its death song of vomit and bubbles,

as the blood ran from its mouth

that had no speech to rail against this matter—j

speech, that gives us all there may be of the future—

speech, that makes all the difference, we like to say.

And I say: in the wilderness of our wit

we will all cry out last words—heave and spit them

into the shattering universe someday, to someone.

Whoever He is, count on it: He won’t answer.

The inventor is like the hunter—each

in the crease and spasm of the thing about to be done

is lost in his work. All else is peripheral,

remote, unfelt. The connections have broken.

Consider the evening:

the shark winched into the air; men

lifting the last bloody hammers.

And Him, somewhere, ponderously lifting another world,

setting it free to spin, if it can,

in a darkness you can’t imagine.

 

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