Crab Meat

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We would go down along the creek
which tainted its way, drain-choked, to the beach,
over a sandstung bridge
to where stain-red tins and drums rusted in a bend.
That was where we bought our crab meat.

A not young
woman owned the place —
lived among discarded claws and legs,
rotting carapaces
and a dead sea stench.
Death-clenched or mangled-open claws grew on the drive
along with a forest of dried-up
crabs’ eyes.

Opening the finger-marked door
we would pause as the breath
from the pots grabbed at our teeth
then reach in, for the crab woman
to say ‘More?’

Yes — more sweet, red tipped, white string meat
wrapped, paper-clean, small-packaged by her stalk-eyed
sullen children.

They would scuttle
sideways, gazing at our feet
while we discreetly
ignored the whistling screams
and steam-dim, hot water struggles
of the tossed in victims.

Then, out again,
into the stiff air,
away from the scraped-out-armour carapaces
and the papier-mâché faces of the crab woman and her brood;

and just think of it as sea food
to be delicately eaten.

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