my father builds an aquarium in the basement

fills it first with sharks
& then with water. carries the water
down from the kitchen sink
in his cupped palms while the fish
gasp & wriggle like door knobs.
i watch tv & dad passes back & forth
in from of me while the show giggles
& flashes color. 
my brain turns off easily anymore.
lets in whatever mouth wants
to take over. tv show about 
who knows but at least it has 
texture. everything in the house
is dull: knives, lightbulbs, even
sharks teeth. dad tells the sharks 
to be patient while he fills their home.
the sharks are smooth & 
when he's gone i hear them whisper
about escaping in the nearby stream.
i used to fear sharks
in all bodies of water before
i realized they're all trying
to escape their fathers 
just like me. i ask dad 
if he needs any help & he assures me
he has this covered. next, 
he lugs a huge bag of colorful 
little aquarium pebbles. i know
the sharks will not be pleased.
they are actually hungry
& don't want to be babied. they are
adult sharks & they prefer grey everything.
mostly, dad's projects are
his children. the habitat almost complete,
he sets up a folding chair
to stare at the sharks who cower
in the far dim corner of the aquarium. 
dad tells them they are cool 
& sips a beer for his newest creation. 
i glimpse this from the wooden basement stairs.
when dad falls asleep, i'll help
the sharks slip out the back door
& into the grass yard. blinkless animals,
i see my own basements in their faces,
pale with worry & sickly love.
they don't want to leave my father
when i come to collect them.
i knew this would happen & it's true
the aquarium is magnificent. giant walls
of glass. even a little fake sunken ship
for the sharps to play in. 
but none of that is why they want to stay.
they yearn for a basement. i tell them
the world is full of basements
but they slip away & i return
to the tv which has always known
how to cradle my worries 
until they're nothing but 
blurred & blue voice
beneath feet of water. 

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