Summer 2009 - THE POTOMAC

Allegory of the Caiman
   Paul Brooke

One hand cinches around my belt,
two hands grab my boots;
I lean over the side of the boat,
twisting slightly, turning
the camera to the exact angle.

The caiman suns himself
on the surface; he is a waterlogged
branch, a minor distraction.
His tactic is fixedness,
while surprise is his favor.

In his patience, the caiman
watches the sloth move cautiously
along a thin limb; the caiman
anticipates the careless monkey
leaning down to drink.

I fear its well muscled cousin,
the crocodile, more, but the caimanís
eye unnerves me; it looks to the past;
it sees nasty heirlooms, those
lurking in the deepest folds:

my grandfather chased his son
through the house with a shotgun,
and my mother, merely a girl, cowered
under the surface of her covers,
waiting for the explosion.

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