Bed the Monster

Sometimes I wonder whether I was robbed
of some rich diction, having grown up in
a landlocked place. The smells of sea don’t make
me sick for home, nor do the names of fish
or coastal birds. Or this: a sound. That means
one thing to me. But it haunts you, this land
formation made by flood or glacial carve.
The dark arm of an ocean reaching past
the salty shore in all her sulk. This world
is full of real life fishmongers, who heave
their flash of fish, bellow shanties easy
like breathing. Something in that skin of yours,
a Captain Ahab, shivers awake sometimes
and stares at me, my nose scrunched up at men
filleting: hacking heads and wracking bones
and tossing around all that red-silver, limp
and heavy, hand to hand. That man you are,
he knows I don’t belong here, as he wraps
his business expertly in paper, throws
it in his pack, and walks away, red skull
cap gleaming back at me: my only guide
from here, at once calling me to follow
and warning me to stay the hell away.

Rachael Lyon is the author of The Normal Heart and How It Works (forthcoming 2011), winner of the 2010 White Eagle Coffee Store Press Poetry Chapbook Award, and finalist for the 2010 Black River Chapbook Competition. She received an MFA in poetry from George Mason University and recently completed a 2009-10 Fulbright grant in Vienna, Austria, where she translated poetry from German. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Hopkins Review, Blue Earth Review, Cider Press Review, and The Midwest Quarterly, among others. At work on her first collection of poems, she teaches writing as an instructor at Penn State.