When Billy Weaver Was Killed by a Shark

(Oahu, Hawai`i, December 13, 1958)
by Alicia Potee

There were three mats, three boards, six boys—tangled red,
green, and royal blue stripes. Two bobbed in repose along the lap

of a sailless skiff, one stiff plank propped like an outstretched pair
of bleached balsa arms—its primitive cross signaling stop, go,

the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. The others pearled,
aimless beneath the December sun, at the mercy of broken

waves. One fell behind, resurfaced pale-faced between
Na Mokulua with a feeble cry, the frantic paddle

of a newly phantomed limb. My mother watched, frozen
at shore, as the white-capped reef flushed crimson,

just like in the movies. And maybe somewhere, before
that final crash delivered Billy to his fate, a warning bled

from the ocean’s edge, too: sharp teeth showing
at the corners of the sky, the eerie metronome

of pulsing tides, the glint and splash of slick, steely
fin, a knife slicing through water, wind skipping

across the wrinkled skin of the sea—a wraith,
whispering, you are just a visitor here.


Alicia Potee is a Maryland native and 2002 graduate of St. John’s College in Annapolis. Her poems have appeared in reviews both in and out of current publication, including The Comstock Review, The Baltimore Review, The Pearl, and Dancing Shadow Review. She lives in Northeast Baltimore with her husband and four-year-old son.

1 Comment

Filed under Poetry

One response to “When Billy Weaver Was Killed by a Shark

  1. Marlin Martin

    Afterwards, Kailua installed shark nets and placed a bounty on sharks..

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