Sharks in the Rivers
We'll say unbelievable things to each other in the early morning— our blue coming up from our roots, our water rising in our extraordinary limbs. All night I dreamt of bonfires and burn piles and ghosts of men, and spirits behind those birds of flame. I cannot tell anymore when a door opens or closes, I can only hear the frame saying, Walk through. It is a short walkway— into another bedroom. Consider the handle. Consider the key. I say to a friend, how scared I am of sharks. How I thought I saw them in the creek across from my street. I once watched for them, holding a bundle of rattlesnake grass in my hand, shaking like a weak-leaf girl. She sends me an article from a recent National Geographic that says, Sharks bite fewer people each year than New Yorkers do, according to Health Department records. Then she sends me on my way. Into the City of Sharks. Through another doorway, I walk to the East River saying, Sharks are people too. Sharks are people too. Sharks are people too. I write all the things I need on the bottom of my tennis shoes. I say, Let's walk together. The sun behind me is like a fire. Tiny flames in the river's ripples. I say something to God, but he's not a living thing, so I say it to the river, I say, I want to walk through this doorway But without all those ghosts on the edge, I want them to stay here. I want them to go on without me. I want them to burn in the water.
From Sharks in the Rivers by Ada Limón. Copyright © 2010 by Ada Limón. Used by permission of Milkweed Editions. All rights reserved.
Ada Limón is the author of The Carrying (Milkweed Editions, 2018) and Bright Dead Things (Milkweed Editions, 2015), which was a finalist for the National Book Award.
Date Published: 2010-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/sharks-rivers