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Bury the Lead

Renée K. Nicholson

They say the sharks came early

and stayed late, unwanted houseguests

off the shores of California beaches

because the early warming of the water

perhaps caused by El Niño. Who knows?

We’re not allowed to utter climate change

anymore. I watch the gathered juvenile great whites

cruise the rocky shoreline via embedded

video. Safe in Appalachian mountains, they say

there are no sharks here. Last week,

while teaching ballet to little girls

a great white SUV careened towards

the glass door of our studio, stopped

inches before crashing through. When

asked, they say that SUV was struck

by an oncoming vehicle that pushed

the great white right up to the clear glass,

driven by a man trying to both drive 

and shoot up. His severed bumper shoved

in the back seat, the syringe

blood-tinged, left bare and open, 

a creepy souvenir. The car backed up,

sped away. I’ve heard all 

about the opioid crisis. Nothing 

else to do. Here it was, 

up close, nearly crashing through. Out west,

great whites patrol the beaches. They say sharks

prefer seals, but perhaps the hapless sea bathers

might choose to call it a day. Lifeguards

fly the flag: waters unsafe. But here—

the patrol acts different. A cop on the scene

did not bag the evidence, rather, threw

the syringe into a Long John Silver’s dumpster

among the remnants of fish sandwiches. Blood’s

no good, he said, because there’s no database

to match it. They say sharks smell blood for miles,

but there are no sharks in Appalachia. We might say

we’ve manufactured our own kind of predator. Dead

in the water, or on the hillside parking lot, 

it doesn’t matter much. Let me tell you:

there will be blood 

and all kinds of sharks will find it.