July/Aug 2022 • Vol. XLIV No. 4 PoetryMarch 14, 2024 |

Not if, but when

The Kenyon Review · Two Poems by Anna V. Q. Ross the scientists all agreed, when the news ran a picture of the man on his paddleboard, a great white trailing silently behind, just feet from the beach, kids and seals splashing by. So next day I’m the embarrassing stranger lady wading toward the four tween boys with their boogie boards, unsunned arm pointing to the posted warning: Be shark smart: don’t swim near seals! I look for mothers, wonder if they mind me worrying the boys—my own daughter, just their age, safe at home, inland. These days she can spend hours looking as new shapes emerge in the mirror: lengthening thigh rounding to hip, swell of collarbone buoying neck, cheek cresting beneath her gaze. How easy to make a mistake, find herself alone one dawn or dusk following a warming current out past where her feet can touch, something unseen hungering near. And those boys on the beach, who’s teaching them the signs: shiny hook, bare skin, deep water f

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Photo of Anna V. Q. Ross

Anna V. Q. Ross’s most recent book, Flutter, Kick, won the 2020 Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award and is forthcoming this fall from Red Hen Press. Among her honors are fellowships from the U. S. Fulbright Program and the Mass Cultural Council. Her work appears in The Nation, The Baffler, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. Ross is poetry editor for Salamander Magazine and teaches in the Department of Writing, Literature, & Publishing at Emerson College and through the Emerson Prison Initiative.

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