Little Girls and Alligators

Alternating Current Press
May 6 · 3 min read
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Poem by John Jay Speredakos


The irony of course,
was we were in the Peace River.
Florida’s Peace River, which has
doubtless witnessed turmoil
enough — brutality, savagery, pain
enough, to give its meander
pause. Just ask its bones.
The ones staring back
from the black and peaty water.
The ones we came to find.
And you WERE dead, certainly.
Dead and partially devoured.
There’s that.
Even now, your tail had gone missing,
your face the target of turkey vultures
with their own red needs.
I called to my daughter in shock.
We stared at your swollen, bloated
white-bellied carcass.
There wasn’t much discussion,
there needn’t be.
She asked the obvious;
I answered the only
way I could.

And so, not with a knife
but a spade, a sharpened shovel
better built for burying,
I began. And I even
pitied the Irish Rovers
for providing me
with the only tune
I had available
for such occasions:
“A long time ago
when the Earth was green …”
I slid some slate
behind your toe
for better resistance.
“there were more kinds of animals
than you’ve ever seen …”
I cut down through the scutes,
the impossibly glossy
ancient armor.
“They’d run around free
while the Earth was bein’ born …”
Through the tendons,
the fiber
“and the loveliest of them all
was the Unicorn.”
and finally, “Well there were
green alligators …”
bone.

And I was sorry. Truly.
Sorry about the dinosaurs.
Sorry about the asteroid
that deprived you and your kin
of another few eons
of quadrupedal supremacy.
Sorry for the handbags
the boots the belts the wallets.
Sorry for the bad rep
with the whole Captain Hook thing
(though I know that was a crocodile),
and sorry about the confusion.
Sorry we conquer our fears
by taking trophies.
Sorry for it all …
But you’re just
so beautiful.
So.
And not built for it,
but rather, to slide silently
under a belly,
twisting, rolling, gorging,
dismembering
limb by limb
till all that remains
is stain and memory.
As beautiful
as my daughter’s shining eyes.

But know this, gator:
I did it out of love for her,
not hatred for you.
Not fear, not vengeance,
not sport, not rage, not greed.
None of the vices we invented
and at which we so excel.
Instead, back home, there was
“Wow, Calliope, is it real?
Can I touch it? So cool.
Did you find it or cut it off?
Really? Disgusting! And
so cool.”

So … you’ll be remembered, alligator.
Not that you’d care; but it’s something
we seem to want very much
on our side of the pond.
You’ll be remembered
in hearts, minds, imaginations,
dreams, and nightmares.
In show-and-tell and sleepovers.
In the whispers of childhood
and my daughter’s toothy smile.
When the new turkey vultures
open their needy beaks —
and the Peace, as ever,
runs red —

one way or another
you will be
remembered.

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JOHN JAY SPEREDAKOS is a New York-based actor and writer with a BA from Muhlenberg and an MFA from Rutgers. He has performed on Broadway and in film, TV, and radio; and he is a devoted daddy to his daughter, Calliope. His poetry appears in magazines, journals, and anthologies. More information can be found on his IMDb page. This poem was previously published in Gravitas: Volume 18, Issue 1.

The Coil

Literature to change your lightbulb.

Alternating Current Press

Written by

Indie press dedicated to lit that challenges readers & has a sense of self, timelessness, & atmosphere. Publisher of @CoilMag #CoilMag (http://thecoilmag.com)

The Coil

The Coil

Literature to change your lightbulb.

Alternating Current Press

Written by

Indie press dedicated to lit that challenges readers & has a sense of self, timelessness, & atmosphere. Publisher of @CoilMag #CoilMag (http://thecoilmag.com)

The Coil

The Coil

Literature to change your lightbulb.

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