Margin: Exploring Modern Magical Realism

m a r y   e l i z a b e t h   p a r k e r

One small brown fish grazes
an ankle in the shallows, and the bravest man springs free
as if bone were severed. You can't see sharks,
but know they wait for this --
skinny girl, no weapons, no love, no breasts, no words,
one white foot hung over water.

The first shark boils up -- whiteness pearl-sized,
boneless, not to be distinguished
from other soft things -- a mass of swirling silt
rising into hints of white,
stripped toothpick white, knucklebone white,
hard shifting -- until fin, wedge, breaks and prowls,

still puppylike, nosing,
humped soft back floating here and there beneath --
so that a million years later
a scaredy-cat girl on land,
disremembering how to breathe in water,

wanting to walk way wide of that blue water,
like a bad dream between land with its known hovels
and the hard-sugar castles of her adulthood --
wills herself to skim across like Christ.

From The Sex Girl, 1999 ~ publisher Urthona Press, Asheville, NC

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