Elizabeth Kerlikowske
The Shark

Happy happy happy you are cranking out poems, cooking new dishes using produce from your garden, teaching, laughing, busy busy busy then you feel it coming like a hive after a new queen, a faraway train you feel before you see, the dark walk toward the principal's office, the shark music from Jaws at first just to frighten but then what makes the music wants to kill you, but wait, the shark wants you to do it yourself and it's full of suggestions: drive into that abutment, jump off the parking structure, slit your wrists and the shark suggests the best way is not across but parallel to the bone. The shark tells you you're ugly, stupid, untalented. It's amazing people can stand to look at you without retching. You smell the affliction on yourself. Your pilot light is low and now it's flickering and it flickers for days. You never cry and you can't stop crying. Your sunglasses don't protect you. And then something, some little something, happens. You drop a glass and it doesn't break or your bamboo grows an inch overnight or your cowlick is tamed and then maybe there is hope, there is a sliver of hope in your hand and it hurts but at least you can feel it, and being able to feel again means you're not quite dead, and there could be a thunderstorm with a power outage. That's wonderful because with candles and silence, the living room becomes a church and your husband is there to welcome you back, although he's been there all along. And you build a fire and watch it burn without wanting to jump in and the shark migrates to someone else's waters and the garden is calling and life dear dear life begins again.

Elizabeth Kerlikowske lives in the north and layers. She teaches at Kellogg Community College and is president of Friends of Poetry (check us out on facebook), an organization devoted to poetry which sponsors a reading series and a contest for kids. Her most recent local publications are in Encore, Hear Here, and Asylum Lake Review. Despite loving to live locally, she has managed to garner four Pushcart nominations. She doesn't like sweets but did used to tell her children that Milk Duds were poisonous at Halloween and to give them all to her.