“Moonlight, Wood Island Light,” oil on canvas, by Winslow Homer, 1894.


to let the sharks of worry swim away
after dismissing them into the open ocean
where pelagic birds sail the air
and water-land.

Isn’t it that these companionable sharks
never stop,
even in sleep,
dreaming and almost being what it is
to really drown?

Yet, I’ve grown so weary
of counting their fins:
nurse, dog,
hammerhead … great white.

And when they course around me,
these disembodied wings,
how can I know for sure
that it isn’t me
they really want to take down?
So, for now,
they are excused, absolved,
in this expanding infinity pool
I fill,
where I am certain, mostly,
I can learn to touch.

The Snake Itself

We’ve become attendant
to limbs trying to slither
from their skin,
molting a kind of opaque trope
connected to mortality,
in ways we can’t envision.

I think of a snake
crossing a bike trail
where I rode years ago,
its slow slither
spanning the paved path.
Its alarming undulation
across asphalt
stopped me.
I had to wait
for it to pass.

Until I got home
that afternoon,
I made myself anticipate
that animal
starting in front of me,
its tongue shooting out
so there could no chance
of severing it with my tires,
which I feared as much as
I feared the snake itself

Which is how it is now:
we are on the look-out
for what’s up ahead,
weaving where we’ll
need to go,
paper thin versions of ourselves
eventually left behind.


Nancy Devine teaches high school English in Grand Forks, North Dakota where she lives. Her poetry, short fiction and essays have appeared in online and print journals. She is the author of a chapbook of poems, The Dreamed, published by Finishing Line Press in 2016.