Apparently tiger sharks eat license plates and rubber tires. Anything you put in front of them
according to Shark Week. Once one bit a woman in half in Hawaii, but it was her fault
for swimming at dawn. They are predators, after all.
She was an athletic swimmer, a Maui native. She knew better.
I am always a wounded seal. People think I will swallow anything.
Like the word cripple. Like you’re pretty but how would you ride me?
Questions like exploratory bites. Sharks don’t mean to kill humans.
Evolution just favors their jaws. And when they circle back, like men,
to decide if you are food or junk, they just take too much;
leave with your flesh in their mouths.
Natalie E. Illum is a poet, disability activist and singer living in Washington DC. She is a 2017 Jenny McKean Moore Poetry Fellow, and a recipient of a 2017 Artists Grant from the DCCAH, as well as a nonfiction editor for The Deaf Poets Society Literary Journal. She was a founded board member of mothertongue, a women’s open mic that lasted 15 years, and the 2013 Beltway Grand Slam Champion. Her work has appeared in various publications and on NPR’s Snap Judgement. Natalie has an MFA in creative writing from American University, and teaches workshops across the country. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter as @poetryrox, on her website, and as one half of All Her Muses, her music project.