Shark God

How is it to feel the jaws of a god,
the tent and chill tons of his meat
collapse you? —ripped and sucked
and gulped, without savor.

To appease Mano the shark
god, the Hawaiians broke
the bones of young virgins
on the heiau stones, then pitched
their flower-strewn bodies
from the cliffs.

Every year or two a shark
jumped the reef at Kuhio Beach,
and someone was taken.

Even if they lived some limb of live
terror remained among the waves—
an agony, breathing the deep
like a lung.

Every time we stared
out over the emerald water,
there was a blue body there,
a hibiscus of blood.

Susan Kelly-DeWitt | Mudlark No. 33
Contents | A Short Lei of Childhood Words and Phrases