Anna Lowe Weber

I Felt It Coming On

My Daughter Remembers the Dead Shark



 

I Felt It Coming On

 
The end of something. Our cat who disappeared,
resurrected all week in my dreams. The fish also
lingering towards death it seemed, body adrift
at the bottom of the tank, such an unmoored thing
that each time we passed by, we thought—well, that’s it.
But it never was. We were proven wrong again and again,
watched as he flickered to life once more.
             Still, there was a sense of closure. Resolution.
Something scratched at the door, whined to be let out.
Weeks earlier in a storm, a tree had fallen on the house
and we were still swallowing the terrific shudder of it,
pressing our tongues against the ulcer of what could have happened
but didn’t. After the tree was removed, walls began separating
slowly and with purpose, a relationship severed.
             At a birthday party, we watched the neighborhood children
beat a pony until the goodies fell out. It felt good to drink
in the afternoon. Sangria, too sweet, from a box. To ignore
the screeching in the mad dash for coins and dollar-store candy.
A few blocks over our house was settling—an inch; a shrug.
The walls would never quite fit together again. And the fish
kept on. Refused, is still refusing, to just give it up.
 
 
 
 



 

My Daughter Remembers the Dead Shark

 
However many summers ago, washed up
like tire rubber on a Rhode Island beach.
Remembers, though she was only three,
wanting to touch it. And also wanting
to run away. The dead thing’s magnetic pull
and push: squeamish pleasure laced with
repulsion. Two weeks we spent on that island,
hiking trails that crossed and splintered, gave way
to views that exposed a patchwork landscape.
Uneven squares in greens and browns
and the sea that begged against the edges
like a pushy dog, always nosing its way in.
We were explorers: beach-combers, sand-diggers,
fingers sifting through whatever the shore
offered up that day: shells and pebbles; an impressive
feather or a blunted bit of beach wood. Something
you might whittle down to a charming souvenir;
once home, a shelf’s boastful proof of travel.
Afternoons, the rental house went dusty with a yellow heat
that stifled, settled in the lungs. We slept like the dead,
sprawled across beds stripped of all but a sheet.
Mid-day dreams were strange and unnerving,
something we always wanted to wake from and did,
still unrested. Restless as the wind picked up,
fields of cattail leaning into late afternoon as if pressed
by an invisible palm; the island cooled in a single breath.
One night, drunk with the idea of vacation, we placed
an order to pick up lobsters from a local market,
but didn’t realize we’d have to cook them ourselves.
My daughter remembers the shark, but it’s the lobsters
I’ll recall for years to come. The gentle tapping
from the pot, unanswered knocks the only indication
that they were still, for just a while longer, alive. The way
steam obscured the tiny kitchen. Bowls of butter were set out,
foamed froth giving way to a clarified citrine underneath.
And then, the mess of the meal: delicious carnage.
Their bodies gone fire-engine red in the boil.
The snap of the spine; pink flesh coaxed out
in a single, satisfying tug. The wreck of it all.
The urge, in the end, instead of cleaning
to just burn the whole damn house down.

 
 
 
 


Originally from Louisiana, ANNA LOWE WEBER currently lives in Huntsville, Alabama, where she teaches creative writing at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rattle, The Florida Review, Ninth Letter, The Iowa Review, Salamander, and Tar River Poetry. Additionally, she has a chapbook, Blessing for the Unborn, from Finishing Line Press.


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