Poem | Otter

Sea otter, walking on land (bottom), sea otter, swimming on its back (top). Illustration from Georg Wilhelm Stellero (1751)


I shine like a hairless fish,
or a tongue, but this is my pelt,
enclosing a secret’s cunning—
winters in dark surf have given me
the silhouette of a wave rising
or just-spent, and the cold ocean
utters me like a whisper.
                        The sand-shark
cannot catch me. The rip-fanged moray
I leave behind, and your gaze, too,
is always tardy as you call

to your companions, aim the camera,
steady the binoculars for
another look. In my
better-than-hands the stone-shelled
molluscis a morsel, and I pluck the flashing sand-dab
from her fathoms. I’m that name
you can’t remember, the language you forgot,
the hope you knew would never come,
tide departing to return.

Published in the April 13, 2018 issue: 

Michael Cadnum has published nearly forty books. His new collection of poems, The Promised Rain, is in private circulation. He lives in Albany, California.

Also by this author

Please email comments to [email protected] and join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Must Reads