Sea Change

Ralph Sneeden

After the Shark

People know me by what
has happened to me, not

what I have done. My deeds,
superimposed, nearly hide

the glistening sheen of the event
but this does not prevent

me from cleaning the upturned
mower's blades by hand

or searching for the shattered
glass in the sink of water

opaque with soap and filth.
Friends commend my mirth

though they seek the damage,
the stamp of teeth, the badge

of my skin's history, the proof,
the rooms dismissed for the roof,

while I still imagine the blur
of whatever prowls the ether

of the reefs, thrusting appetite
before it, a banner bright

with the other unseized lives.
My own, forgotten, dissolves

in the particulate blue of hours,
their invisible wake. But power

relinquished is power gained;
devoured suggests the pained

freedom of being unsavored,
an unappreciated flavor,

whim incarnate, a waste
of time with immortal aftertaste.

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Ralph Sneeden is the author of Evidence of the Journey (Harmon Blunt Publishers, 2007). The title poem of that poetry collection received the Friends of Literature prize from Poetry magazine and the Poetry Foundation. His work has also appeared in journals such as The Kenyon Review, New England Review, The New Republic, Ploughshares, Poetry, and Slate. He teaches in Exeter, NH, recently completed a residency at The MacDowell Colony, and last winter was the Bergeron Writing Fellow at the American School in London.