The Great Nebula of Orion

Kelle Groom
| poetry

Impossible to read, held with another bit of wax, like chewing gum
A small white calling card full of emptiness         A girl dances
in a burgundy bikini at the water’s edge, gold feet, a shark, a shark
A tourist holds his fishing rod like a rake         The boy in a blue T-shirt
I’d passed, fishing closer to 27th street, bends down in shallow water
& pulls the fishing line toward him, gently almost tenderly as if the only
purpose is to open another door         Line nearly motionless
I doubt it will be a shark, but there it is, head whipping back & forth,
what drowning is for me         The boy grips both tail & pectorals,
a master of coherency         So the shark can’t turn, bite him
Shark full & seamless, sandy white, goes still        People crowd
I don’t see the hook removed         Does the shark let the boy reach inside
All those little teeth, the tourist said, They could do some damage
The boy carries the shark back out to sea, held like a wet & cranky infant,
slightly away from his blue tee         He’d kneeled at the shark’s mouth
I saw one of his little eyes         Like a creature deep
inside a costume         Unable to move         More than once, I’d let
myself go into the image of disappearing –dune, ocean, horizon line –
& closed it like a door         Somewhere I have to lay it down
We are one day to deal with real being         Make a hierarchy of fears
& face them         For example, see my heart floating in a jar.

Kelle Groom is the author of four poetry collections: Spill (forthcoming), Five Kingdoms, Luckily, Underwater City, and a memoir, I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl. Her poems appear in American Poetry Review, Best American Poetry, The New Yorker, New York Times, Ploughshares, and Poetry.

Map of a Woman’s Heart