Get Out of the Water
My uncle keeps
his birth certificate in his trunk
he gets pulled over he can prove he was born in the United States.
He calls my father to say, They want us dead.
Who? All of them.
My uncle won’t wear a mask
it happened on what day of what month
he stretched his hand in the dark of the movie theater and dipped
into my father’s popcorn. He ate it all without asking.
My father wants a picture of what I look like,
bandana around my face. Before I go to the grocery
he says, When your uncle went back to the store,
the white woman next to him
said she didn’t have to wear a mask
and they let her in just like that.
I’ve had a headache since
the pines turned yellow and can’t stop
thinking about how frightened I was
when my mother took me to see Jaws.
It isn’t scary, my sister said,
if you stay out of the water.
But they don’t, not until a little white boy dies.
Then his people begin to believe
their vacation might be ruined or more accurately
they did not recognize their beach.
The horror of Jaws
is not the rows of teeth, but the endless sea
of white faces who are afraid
of losing money knowing the ocean
has always been full of sharks, blood, and everything else they cannot see.
My uncle can’t picture Adam and Eve
were ever naked. He got angry with me
as he always does and told me
I didn’t know what I was talking about.
Were they in bathing suits, standing at the edge of the water
no you go in,
I’ll go in if you go in.
What shark eagerly awaits to breach
or keeps swimming and thinks,
I know all about you.
At the grocery,
my bandana falls down when I pull the carts apart.
I can hear my uncle laugh, his too many teeth.
Hands in my father’s
popcorn and across his sleeping face.
Next to me,
a man has six bags of potato chips, a twelve pack of beer, and eight steaks.
I can’t find a chicken. I can’t remember what to buy.
Shark attacks often happen in shallow water.
I’ve always been the dog,
the owner calls for and doesn’t notice
floating, not even
the electromagnetic field
surges a muddy outline of what I
know. Rupture the stomach
and find the same license plate,
milk carton, and arm of the city still wearing its watch.
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