If This University Were the Galapagos Islands
by Christine Butterworth McDermott

When you are an old man, you will still collect them,
these co-eds with coral cheeks, seashell pink lips.

You say, let them mouth your praises, like a bunch
of tropical fish caught in your tank. I know what

you are doing, you bronze hammerhead. You must
keep swimming rather than drown. Push that water

through your aching gills, Buddy. Flash through
these schools—blue, yellow, white—like you know

the current. Oh, how the delicate angelfish approach.
You’re convinced they want to kiss your sores away,

pick the small meat off your furrowed brow, your
bloated body. How good it feels as they brush

their fins across the pocked sores of your skin,
all the wounds given by your prehistoric world.

What can you teach them? Just the lumbering
momentum of your turning, just the giant slap

of your tail against the water, which no longer
causes waves but ripples to the shore.

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 15, Issue 4.

Christine-McDermottChristine Butterworth-McDermott  is an associate professor at Stephen F. Austin State University, where she teaches creative writing and fairy tales. She is the author of a chapbook, Tales on Tales: Sestinas, and a full-length collection, Woods & Water, Wolves & Women.

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