The children, pale and gangly
At the blossom of their boyhood
Scamper down the sandy slope
Toward the rocky shore
Where their tiny boats pitch against the tides.
There, they see a man
Tossing a net into the green water,
Crabs scuttling around his ankles.
To the boys, his tanned and wrinkled face
Is the likeness of a tuna.
Even his eyes are hollow and watery.
They are afraid of him
But when he beckons, they come
The old sailor regards them with a coolness.
His raspy voice grinds
Like the ocean tides against craggy stones.
He smells of salt and sun-burned skin.
The old fisherman speaks slowly
As they sit on the warm sand
And the cold stones.
He has the brittle drawl of working men
That spend their days on the sea
In creaking, moaning fishing boats
Tossed by waves and wind.
He says to the boys,
“In the deepest, coldest swirlin’ black,
Beneath a ceiling of shivering blue,
Kelp twist in the churnin’ of the waves
Disturbed by a shift in the waters.
Nearby, pale fish—alien and beady-eyed—
Twist and flap their fins sluggishly.
Beads of bioluminescence—
Haunting cerulean and acid green—
Thread their spiny wings.
The fish go still, sensing something else
That’s in the ocean with them.
Twisting slippery, transparent bodies,
They scramble away into the dark
As the shadow drags by below.
It is longer than the ships that pass miles overhead.
But no narrower.
No one has ever seen the creature,
Except for an unlucky sailor or two.
It rises out of the depths too fast,
Waves pouring off its shiny, black scales.
Its face is like an eel, only
A thousand times larger.
With teeth like swords and eyes!
Eyes like flat, onyx saucers
The size of wagon wheels!”
The old fisherman points,
His leathery finger aimed at the sea.
“Remember, its favorite snack is people,”
He reminds the children quietly.
“So, mind yourselves when you go boating
Else the Leviathan might get the better of you.”
Leisa Kilby is an honors student majoring in communications at Penn State Harrisburg.