Emily O’Neill’s predation

             Q: what were you wearing?

             A: fear is an unmistakable scent
                        strong enough to float atop the water
                                    & isn’t it funny we have other words
                                               for that / isn’t it romantic to bottle the panic
                                                            & pretend it’s a wish

is there anything better than killing
kindness with a sidelong dagger
glance how dare you
act aware of what sinks
        I can’t put away my jaw

             if you could be any animal /

             Q: who would want to be misunderstood
                        as a bloody machine, or hunted by men
                                    a trophy strung from steel hook?

             A: women are already

if I could’ve broken the safety
glass & stepped through the plaster
set of teeth would’ve been a bedroom
on the other side

             if you could be any animal /

                                    I’m sorry you assumed
                        I was waiting for strangle to steal
        impulse from skin, leave me thoughtless
        take in the nets            climb onto the deck
        again   we’re waiting for tide to drag
        cutlass across the mermaid’s throat
                                                                      I’m sorry I couldn’t stop
                                                                                             smiling long
                                                                                    enough to scream