mangroves like finger bones
dipping into
tea stained water
warped and bent

gators are trained to follow the whirring
fan so customers can snap
photo heat and haze—
as it dances the surface
like so many motes

unpredictable reptiles              make us feel primal

tea stained water
where mangroves
like warped and bent
finger bones, dip

pilots spin their boats
through clearings
with half-hearted yee haws
hopping off to rustle              gators from the brush

my little one clutches
my waist          with each whip,
as I grip her tight          with each tip
toward the murky shallow

she was frightened
by the rotting croc          our captain poked with a stick
she was frightened by
the nonchalance                        with which he poked
the rotting croc with a stick

eyes wide,           she covered my mouth
any time                         I recounted our trip

No, don’t tell about the thing

she was tortured by the skull,
meat hanging from the jaw
as though we disturbed it,                        eating itself

warped and bent finger bones
like mangroves dip
into the tea stained water

JEN FITZGERALD is a poet, essayist, and a native New Yorker who received her MFA in Poetry at Lesley University. She is the host of New Books in Poetry Podcast, a member of New York Writers Workshop, and was a Bread Loaf 2014 Conference participant. Her first collection of poetry, “The Art of Work” features the photographs by Thomas Sayers Ellis and is forthcoming with Noemi Press in Summer 2016. Her work has been featured on and in PBS Newshour, Harriet: The Poetry Foundation Blog, Tin House, Salon, PEN Anthology, and AAWW: Open City, among others. She is at work on her memoir and can be found atwww.JenFitzgerald.com