Travis Mossotti: "Picked Clean"




           —Fernandina Beach, FL


We wanted megalodon

and got baby whites instead,

the beach a final destination

for shark teeth—obsidian black,

not bleached white

as I had imagined them.

Something unique

about the current

brought them in,

brought the business end

of one of the earth’s oldest

marine predators ashore

to be collected and sold

in trinket shops:

affixed to the end of cheap

necklaces, the big ones

kept under glass. We spent

an entire afternoon

with our heads down

and found only three,

the beach already

picked clean, the cold

December twilight frothing

the surf. At a beachside diner,

over a fried bouquet of clams

and happy hour beer from the tap,

I wondered just what kind

of current had a hold on us,

noticed the three

small jagged toothy triangles

had already started cutting

a hole in my pocket.



Travis Mossotti is currently the Poet-in-Residence at the Endangered Wolf Center in St. Louis, Missouri. He was awarded the 2011 May Swenson Poetry Award by contest judge Garrison Keillor for his first collection of poems, About the Dead (USU Press, 2011), and his work has appeared in such places as the Antioch Review, Manchester Review, Poetry Ireland Review, Subtropics, The Writer’s Almanac, and many others. In 2009, he was awarded the James Hearst Poetry Prize from the North American Review by contest judge Robert Pinsky, and in 2010 his poem "Decampment" was adapted to screen as an animated short film.