Leaving SeaWorld

A Poem by Karen Kelsay

Jacques Cousteau would have loved
our living room, where Dad displayed his creepy
collection of sea creatures inside the dark
paneled den. In this grotto-shrine

there were no pictures of daughters
in frilly dresses on the mantle, only a looming
photo of an eel sliding from its cove,
with a sheepshead and giant grouper

making their debut over the sofa. By the door
a parrot and dolphin fish were hung.
Our coffee table had cork legs with crushed
abalone embedded in the surface

and a glass lamp above it, with a shade
made from boat canvas. Hammerhead
shark’s teeth and sand dollars were wedged
between diving books on the shelves.

At age three Dad put a wetsuit on me.
Each summer I joined a swim team, snorkeled
and scuba dived. He helped make my surfboard
and cheered me on when I caught a wave.

One July I noticed bikinis looked more
appealing than a one piece— that I liked eating ice cream
better than having a salt water-itch and sandy scalp.
I gave up diving gear and tackle boxes,

decided fish have a disgusting feel to them and that freaky
things lived in coral reefs. I realized jellyfish could sting,
sharks were ugly, wetsuits were uncomfortable
and people could run out of air using tanks.

I bought myself a little ruffled sundress and stretched
out in a chair by the pool. I slathered Coppertone
on my legs and put lemon in my hair. I stopped praying
I would grow fins and that my photo
would be hung on the wall.

Simply Eating Her Salad

A poem by Michael Estabrook

Sometimes I become completely overwhelmed
by merely being in her presence,
like this afternoon
at McDonald’s with the grandchildren,
suddenly I’m choked with emotion,
barely able to speak,
while simply watching her
sitting there eating her salad, quietly, unassumingly.

I had to work at not crying,
(What a silly spectacle I would have been.)
dabbing at my eyes
with a crumpled McDonald’s napkin.
Guess my eyes are watering
because it’s so cold outside.
(Sure, nice try, you silly old man.)

I can understand being so smitten
when you first fall in love–how can you help it!
The beauty, the youth, the vigor and vitality,
the inescapable mystery of it all,
crashing over you like an avalanche in the Alps.
But come on! I’ve been at this now a long time,
with this woman almost half a century!
How could it be possible
that I still get all choked up watching her
sitting there simply eating her salad?