Instructions on Being a Sea Creature

If you are a whale, your mouth
should be in your forehead,
not to mention your blowhole
gasping exclamations nearby.
If not, then you may need gills
folded like taffy and oxygenated.
Besotted, Pliny the Elder
declared a dolphin’s tongue
better than those of most humans
of his acquaintance. You should be
so lucky. Your eyes may migrate,
fleeing the symmetry of your face
or you may never sleep again.
Say goodbye to opposable thumbs.
On the other hand (so to speak),
you get to spawn thousands.
Practice lurking, breaching,
crushing ship hulls like cellophane.
Who else finds their way by singing?

Allen Braden is the author of A Wreath of Down and Drops of Blood (University of Georgia) and Elegy in the Passive Voice (University of Alaska/Fairbanks). His poems have been anthologized in The Bedford Introduction to Literature, Poetry: An Introduction, Best New Poets, and Spreading the Word: Editors on Poetry. Assistant poetry editor of A Journal of the Built + Natural Environments, he has received fellowships from the NEA and Artist Trust.