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A Tongue in a Mouth of Teeth is a Powerful Muscle

Read by Jeff Simpson

More people are killed by falling coconuts than by sharks.
Creationists tell us animals were not carnivorous before The Fall,
that the dinosaurs’ long teeth were necessary for opening coconuts.
Teeth like sharks’ sawing the sea’s strange bodies.
The would-be teeth in a chicken embryo’s beak.
Our science begins by unbuilding the bird:
we find in the chicken teeth and tails like the old T-rex’s.
We find sharks were all once apples in God’s great eye.
Along the beach, the children collect sharks’ teeth in dresden teacups.
Scientists tell us sharks don’t like the ways we taste,
while my people are killed by falling coconuts.
My hands are falling coconuts and this
tea tastes, gently, of bitter anise.
My people are dying for a weapon.
Or a tongue, or a tail
too strong to tuck between their legs. The coconuts tell us nothing.
My palms turn red in fall. My people —
found starving with the shore by the sharks —
I have them eating out of my hands.

S. Whitney Holmes lives in Tuscaloosa, AL, and is Poetry Editor for Black Warrior Review.  Her poems appear or are forthcoming in 32 Poems, Ninth Letter, The Journal, and elsewhere.