Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 15
Fall 2016

The Greenland Shark

by Peter Krumbach

Researchers used radiocarbon dating to determine the ages of 28 Greenland sharks, and estimated that one female was about 400 years old.
—Rebecca Morelle [1]


She is born the same instant as Milton.
The renaissance roars; masked Florentines flirt.
In the frigid half-light beneath the North Atlantic ice,
she shreds eel flesh into carmine plumes, slides behind
the green eyes of the girl in Vermeer’s chair.
Keels of squalled brigs above her, she swims
through the House of Romanov.

Her bulk grows a mere third of an inch each year.
At the age of one hundred and fifty, a first
sensual urge rattles her hull. Amadeus is born the night
she rises to the ocean surface to devour stars,
roll and thrash, ignite her own galaxies, the comets
like guillotined heads that will soon
roll down Parisian squares.

Trying to make a melody of herself, she blows
into Beethoven’s ear-trumpet, while high curtains
of Russian snow descend upon Gogol’s hat.
Time keeps drowning, and she dives a mile deep
into the hum of darkness where slaves are promised
a mule and forty acres. The world belches steam,
explodes into shrapnel, rocket ships, assassins,
and saints.

Now at eighteen feet, she’s flecked with antiquity,
pearls in the wake of her slow tango. A bearded Dane
carbon-dates her eyes, proclaims her a monarch
of four centuries. Released back into the icy spume,
she cuts a gruesome smile, serpentines down,
down, away from the ruins.



Editor’s Note:

[1] From, 12 August 2016, in reference to Greenland shark may live 400 years, smashing longevity record by Elizabeth Pennisi in Science (11 August 2016)

SHJ Issue 15
Fall 2016

Peter Krumbach

grew up in the 1950s in what used to be Czechoslovakia. Shortly after graduating with a degree in photography, he left the country, and in 1981 arrived in New York. He worked in commercial art, and later as a translator and broadcaster. He currently lives in San Diego, California.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury