Sometimes the Alligator Gets to Write the Ending

Issue SixIssue Six PoetryPoetry

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By Jack B. Bedell



My daughter has been watching the news

every night this week, anxious for word


on the soccer team trapped in a cave in Thailand.

Every newscast parses like a cliffhanger


for her, each night mixing sorrow and fear

with a little hope: one night divers


find the team and swim back to let us know

the boys are all alive, but hungry and cold;


the next, four boys are pulled out of the caves

by guide wires, the rest left behind for another


day; then delays and worries of more water

pouring in to drown the remaining before divers


can swim back to drag them free. The next night,

domestic news of violence and murder


and political kerfuffle preempts the cave report,

and my daughter is left to fret her own ending –


What if the rains come? What if the older boys

are too big to fit through tight passages?


What is one of them kicks the wrong rock,

and the whole thing caves in?


She’s seen enough of the news now to know

it isn’t a chapter book rumbling downhill


toward a happy ending, or a fable holding its lesson

safe until we’re ready for it. In this tale,


the alligator is not compelled to carry the opossum

safely to the other side of the bayou.