Shark in a Jar

by Aaroh Patel

Let it be found by a child,
that smooth column of mottled skin
basking in the arid heat of a desert sun,


armored muscle on ebony asphalt
oozing a trail of slime as if to say
to the child, “Come follow me,”


into a lounge where a striking spectrum
of venomous snakes tangle
like a mixed ball of yarn.


Here lie the reptiles of North America
together in one area,
unbeknownst to the travel guides


that can only dream it exists,
but reality is a nightmare with a hellish twist
found in a back room where pain persists


in the form of a baby shark:
trapped in a glass jar,
gray like the iron flecks


in Athena’s eyes, its murky orbs
brimming with terrible knowledge
and pupils cloudy with tears


never wiped by a
motherly fin, puddled in a pool
of distress misted over


by the remnants of an iris:
a moment in time preserved
by a concoction of formaldehyde,


rotting flesh and spiraling entrails,
lips parted in a final goodbye
with its jutting snout


pressed against the glass
and its fin feebly curled in to protect
it’s pale, exposed underbelly

from the petrifying gaze of the child
that holds the shark in its grubby hands
balancing it in the anticipation of release


or perpetual torture as it stares
at the child with its lifeless eyes,
pleading and begging to be dropped


and freed from its chamber of pain
only for the child to turn it around
and look at the price tag


then back into the shark’s eye
and hiss a single word,
which is no.

Aaroh Patel is currently a 3rd year undergraduate student studying on the pre-med track. While his academic interests lie mostly in the sciences, he has slowly stoked a passion for poetry after taking a poetry writing course his first semester in college. He is a student-writer with no previously published works of poetry, but as an avid consumer of poetry and literature, he hopes his writing is similarly enjoyed by others!

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