She says she likes Shark Week, adjusts her schedule each time it comes around, says it terrifies her in the most remarkable way, the room preternaturally dark, the one light coming at her from the shark itself, from its God eyes, as if she’s living underwater, life circling constantly, then coming in, trying to get her, honest as hell. Just like God, she says, his steady dorsal fin. It is what it is, she says, the wages of sin. She remembers in eighth grade swimming across Hawk’s Pond with the others, panicking, struggling to quiet her breathing, each of them thinking they never would make it, each getting there somehow, to drink what the boys had brought, shot after shot, the whiskey wriggling inside of her, a hot fish that she swallowed, that snakes in her, breaks in her still, the thing that she wakes to, the thing that destroys her, that she clings to each morning as it slithers away.
Sometimes she remembers back farther than that, an old postcard her grandfather sent her that she never threw away, an Indian in a canoe on a lake, Hiawatha, she thinks, staring into the water, the water so still he could see his reflection, and then, even deeper, below, the great fish underneath, the arc of its body, the curved bow of his canoe, exactly the same. Which is it, her grandfather asked her. Is the fish trying to be like the boat of the body? Or is the body always swimming, trembling, trying to be like the fish?
About John Hodgen
John Hodgen is Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Assumption College in Worcester, MA. Hodgen won the AWP Donald Hall Prize in Poetry for Grace (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005)). His fourth book of poetry Heaven & Earth Holding Company came out from University of Pittsburgh Press, and his first book In My Father's House, has just been reprinted from Lynx House/University of Washington Press.
He can be found on the web at: johnhodgen.blogspot.com.