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AR #59 Cover
number 59

P O E T R Y
by Caroline E. Mann

Sleeping with Sharks Teeth

A silver word like a comma
splashed out of her mouth, into the fury
of the conversation held
on a scratchy strip of sand
somewhere between
sea and sky. The comma leaped,
dripping light in a pause
from the corners of her lips,
where a smile once played
over and over her face.

Behind her, the ocean roars and begs
and flops over its feet in a stroke of
foam and clumsy white, a rolling curtain
like the bristles of a broom across a scratchy wooden floor,
like the gray baleen
of a whale's mouth, swallowing
salt and sea dirt.

It is a clumsy love,
this flashing behind her eyes,
this jangling body of bone and skin.
I lay against her, my fingers combing
through the sand caked on her hair, brushing over
flecks of seashells and
fallen freckles.

We sleep quietly
against the rough back of the land, and listen
for the splashing of downward birds in the night,
their black bodies shot like arrows
into the ink of the sea. Their eyes
search the calm for movement—
some small flash of silver life—
ceaseless herring, squirming
beneath the weight of two blue planes.

And on the ribbon of earth we pause,
two commas set out to dry.
We close our eyes
and sleep with sharks teeth
beneath our backs.

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