On a 71-degree day in the middle of a Colorado winter I am thinking about the colossal squid, which swallows food through its brain. The colossal squid, like most squid, has an esophageal tube for a brain. If, in the depths of the Antarctic ocean—even though it can handle a 7-foot Patagonian toothfish—the colossal squid swallows a too-big fish chunk, it literally gets brain damage. Evil thought, “brain damage”… I remember once I clung to a massive accordion-folded curtain in a hotel in Boston, looking out at dangerous weather sweeping in off the Atlantic. My room was quiet, glassed in. The sailboats in the marina heaved helter skelter. It felt like the whole world had brain damage, disorderly parts unleashed but weirdly silent. My sister was about to get married and the theme was “A Tropical Honeymoon Forever.” Could they really do it? Thematized gift baskets had been sent to each room and each groomsman had a pressed Hawaiian shirt dangling in the closet. I put mine on, ate some macadamia nuts. I picked up the heavy, hairy coconut and, looking out at the harbor, tapped it gently against the glass.
ERIC BURGER’S poems have appeared in Black Warrior Review, Denver Quarterly, Quarterly West, Puerto del Sol, Green Mountains Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, CutBank and Gulf Coast, among others. He was a Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing and is a recipient of a grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts. He teaches at the University of Colorado and lives in Boulder with his wife Katherine and daughter June.
Is this an “Evil thought, “ poem? I know several people with brain damage and traumatic brain injuries or milder injuries.