Plague of Dead Sharks
Who knows whether the sea heals or corrodes? The wading, wintered pack-beasts of the feet slough off, in spring, the dead rind of the shoes' leather detention, the big toe's yellow horn shines with a natural polish, and the whole person seems to profit. The opposite appears when dead sharks wash up along the beach for no known reason. What is more built for winning than the swept-back teeth, water-finished fins, and pure bad eyes these old, efficient forms of appetite are dressed in? Yet it looks as if the sea digested what is wished of them with viral ease and threw up what was left to stink and dry. If this shows how the sea approaches life in its propensity to feed as animal entire, then sharks are comforts, feet are terrified, but they vacation in the mystery and why not? Who knows whether the sea heals or corrodes?: what the sun burns up of it, the moon puts back.
"Plauge of Dead Sharks" by Alan Dugan, from Poems Seven: New and Complete Poetry (Seven Stories Press, 2001). Used by permission of Seven Stories Press, www.sevenstories.com