THE SHARK ABOVE

by Kim Richardson

From where I am in this plane, six miles up, the forests below are great dark patches on the earth. Among them little raggedy fields, crosshatched in snow, dotted with houses. Scattered in the forests, too, are lakes large enough to catch the sun as we pass overhead. Their rounded contours push against small cross-street towns that lie across frigid intersections, push against the straightness of long highways.

vapour trails
outside the plane's window
roads on the ground

When I arrive in the city that lies on a lake like the sea I walk for hours among buildings that seem to sprout though the ground, sheer upwards, so high they disappear into low cloud. Down in the streets puddles of black water fill potholes, lumps of dirty ice encrust the sidewalks. A biting wind drives droplets of fine spray against my face. I take shelter in the Art Institute.

bending to drink
at the water fountain, see
my brassy self

Walking round the museum clockwise, sunwise, I start in African Art, cross to the Americas, swing up through Peru and Mexico to North America; then skitter over to Rome and Greece and Egypt and on to India and Asia.

in the museum
stone Buddha seated, smile
lit from above

Back outside, the sun has come out and the skyscrapers, now stripped of their cloud, rise to sudden summits. The city, seen from the window of a cab on the way out to the aquarium, seems to shrink across the harbour.

through a plate glass window
the child looks up to see
a shark swimming

[Published in Blithe Spirit 11/3 Sept 2001]

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