Animal Kingdom



if i may, madam –
i see you swirling, sinking
into saline, outstretched
on an undersea shore
your breathing’s shallow
but you’re miles below
knots untangling
at a hundred knots



lift your head, squire –
though you prefer it plunged
in warm water, where
i can’t see you breathing
between mouthfuls, urgent
not to starve. the raw air
hurts your throat
but aren’t your lungs
burning? ripples
spread out to stillness
as the sun anoints you,
anyway, with royal oil



rest, my lord –
for the journey
is too much for you
i see the breath
abandon your chest
the thick air a cruel
gravity. your dead stare
a punishment.
sleep now
if you can
and don’t be afraid
the slanting sun
heralds the coolness
of the coming night