Shevaun Brannigan



Unzip my dress to sand falling,
                        a heap on the floor where
I was. A shell, a shell, a row
            of stingray’s teeth, shark’s tooth,
broken comb, porcelain shards,
                        a doll’s mouth,
            jellyfish tentacle reaching
like an electric fence
                         around the whole goddamn thing.


The ocean mouths
                        my waist.


Water hurled itself against
                        the cliffs like a man against
a barricaded door.
            Out in the bay,
the clouds darkened, the sky thickened,
                        my parents squabbled like seagulls.
            Fish began to upturn around us, then the drizzle,
we started back.


                        The jellyfish
stings tight around my spine.


If I learned patience,
                        it was when my father taught me
to look for sharks’ teeth.
            Sometimes sifting through the sand,
my hand filled with small translucent crabs
                        I rinsed away to keep searching.  


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