James Hoch

Sleeping Shark

Perhaps its dream is effortless drifting,
riding the easy labyrinths of current,
un-hounding its prey, a stay from hunger.
Or maybe it dreams the way it lived,
pursuing a marlin to a prison of coral,
the looping shadow-play, the widening
unhinged jaws, the sudden flash, clasp.
Either way, the body gliding silent
through the tank, I’ve seen this before—
my father floating in whiskey, in bed,
his teeth les monstrous on the nightstand,
the head of his penis, like a turtle’s,
poking through the fly of his boxers.
I wanted to tuck his penis back through
the opening, and lie beside him,
what a son was supposed to do.
I put my hand on the glass—thick, one-way—
before the shark flinches, roused to devour
anything that moves, anything made of blood.

James Hoch
Sleeping Shark first appeared in Black Warrior Review, Fall/Winter 2002 Vol 29 number 1.