Shape of a Manatee
My heart holds the shape of a manatee,
which I know despite never having grasped
my own heart, despite having only watched a
manatee at SeaWorld—before Blackfish, before
my children were born, before Michael and Irma
belted Florida. Before whatever travesty lands
next, I loved the sea cows floating in what looked
to me then like a passable estuary. Living plants,
well-stamped rocks, the Windexed sides of a large
aquarium. From my post beside the tank, I looked up
through lilies’ shadows to the waving liquid sun.
The manatees were feeding, unbothered by Evinrude
signatures scrawled in black across their backs.
Their slow rest belied no concern for their species’
dripping numbers, for human encroachment upon
their native hollows, the mercurial temperature
of those air-clear springs. They floated on, serene,
languid in the filtered light. Digesting seagrass,
closing their eyes to that lolling sun. Closing their eyes
to the girl with both palms pressed against the glass.