Week 38: Shannon K. Winston


Upon Viewing Damien Hirst’s The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, 1991

Installation Art
Glass, painted steel, silicone, monofilament, shark and formaldehyde solution
85.5 x 213.4 x 70.9 in 

Whether the shark is flying
through the air 

or swimming in
water, it’s hard to tell. 

In death
anything’s possible. 

The shark’s mouth
is wide open as if

in protest. If it had a voice,
it would be screaming.

Although, maybe death is as
silent as this glass box,

which circumscribes
the unknown with a deceptive,

transparent ease. How finite
the world seems. I look into 

the shark’s tank and try to see
what tomorrow contains.

I can’t picture it.
Both wanting and not

to contemplate it,
I crouch down

to get a better look, to gaze
deep into the shark’s jaws.

Is it better, I wonder,
to see my reflection

or nothing at all?


Shannon K. Winston’s work has appeared in Twyckenham NotesSWWIM Every DayThe Inflectionist ReviewThe Los Angeles Review, and Up the Staircase Quarterly, among others. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and several times for the Best of the Net. She earned her MFA at Warren Wilson College and currently teaches in Princeton University’s Writing Program. Find her here: shannonkwinston.com.