When the guy walked in wearing only swim fins and a narwhal codpiece
it gave my Aunt Abigail the shock of her life, though she knew
he was probably harmless as a jar of pickled herring.
She’d always worried too much about fish, about everything, really,
to do with the sea or even tap water. She couldn’t tell anyone
how she felt about washing dishes, reaching her hand under opaque suds
to grasp who knew what edge or jagged shard, couldn’t share
the triumph she felt when she got rid of that garbage disposal,
which never, to be sure, sucked in her hand and chewed it to a stump,
but that didn’t mean it wouldn’t have liked to. One time
she queried Siri for a definition of jodhpurs
and got back a list of articles about lobster.
Her relief at seeing the man in the swim fins ignore her, slap
his way to the bar, and order an artisanal mojito
leaked away when he said, “Columbus on his third voyage
saw many irregularities, saw finally
that the Earth is not round but has a bulge on one side,
in the East, near the rivers of Eden, a bulge ‘like a woman’s nipple.’”
Abigail knew the type, of course. The Earth must have a nipple.
Every ship must have a nipple, every island, every hill,
every royal couple, every Genoese banker, every chain of slaves—
a nipple on every barrel, cask, exotic plant, sealed document,
every campaign, inner council, limo, TV show, photo op,
on every intern.