Swerve

by John Estes

selected by C. K. Williams

THE FISH TURNED TOWARD SHORE

                      The fish turned toward shore. –Jaws

The fish turned toward shore
            and in its fishy way: Harrumph. So that's the deep,
a hollow throbbing in the ear tube
and tribulating rills along the lateral line. What
            is heard, or sensed there—what others
call the deep's deep, or with a flourish the deepening deep—
is not the place imagined but a little shift
            in pressure, a slipping out of work boots into
house shoes so far gone unshifted. Not that a fish
any more than any creature, minds being lied to;
            not that on the belief-level of the ear stone
it didn't comprehend how, beneath the weight
of all that water, the situation couldn't help but get
            out of hand. Just that it, maybe more than
other creatures, learns by habit to trade on the side
of silence, and isn't prepared for the kind surprise
            of shallows which—maybe by its shoaling, maybe
its kelpy trusses or its equalizing zeal—cannot
help but be mistaken, on occasion, as having uttered
            Fish turn toward the shore.


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