Today's poem is by Kathleen Flenniken

Sea Monster

We've gathered the experts to sound the loch
and map its deep bathymetry,

the child psychologists, the family therapists,
the counselors from "Camp Courageous Kids,"

some with their listening equipment, some with their
shaman prayers and sixth senses for the dark,

and some of us who just feel safer knowing
the size and shape of two daughters' grief.

We stand on shore to meet its filmy inner eye.
We wait to see it rise and blink. But the animal

sleeps. Therapy is quiet, the girls play soccer,
collect stuffed animals and get good grades.

Our measurements are all remote—
we note how hard we push and they push back,

how fast their faces close at their mother's name.
Once when somebody said "suicide"

we all rushed to see the surface break.
Nothing. How often have I wakened

and thought of her, their mother, whom I loved,
how she drove to a terrain as bleak as the moon,

loaded her backpack with rocks and jumped
to the bottom of the lake? I believe

in monsters. I believe in their cunning. She
taught me that they rise up when no one is looking.

I stand by with the divers, technicians,
their father watching out for any sign. This time

I'm going to be there to strike the monster down.

Copyright © 2004 Kathleen Flenniken All rights reserved
from Atlanta Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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