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By Kay Ryan

Everything contains some   

silence. Noise gets

its zest from the

small shark’s-tooth

shaped fragments

of rest angled

in it. An hour   

of city holds maybe   

a minute of these   

remnants of a time   

when silence reigned,   

compact and dangerous   

as a shark. Sometimes   

a bit of a tail   

or fin can still   

be sensed in parks.


Kay Ryan, "Sharks’ Teeth" from The Niagara River. Copyright © 2005 by Kay Ryan. Used by permission of Grove/Atlantic, Inc. All rights reserved. Caution: Users are warned that this work is protected under copyright laws and downloading is strictly prohibited. The right to reproduce or transfer the work via any medium must be cleared with Grove/Atlantic, Inc.

Source: Poetry

  • Nature
  • Social Commentaries

Poet Bio

Kay Ryan
Born in California, Kay Ryan is the author of several books of poetry. Her unique brand of tightly compressed brilliance has earned her the status of one of the great living American poets, and led to her appointment as U.S. Poet Laureate in 2008. Maintaining a career outside the mainstream poetry circuit, Ryan teaches remedial English in California’s Marin County, where she has lived for the last 30 years. Ryan has said that her poems do not start with imagery or sound, but rather develop “the way an oyster does, with an aggravation.” See More By This Poet

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