Crabber

Poem By Larry D. Thomas

from The Lighthouse Keeper (Timberline Press, 2001)

Ninety years of Galveston sun
reign in her flesh like a bronze tattoo
needled indelibly into her face,
arms, and legs. Her throat's adorned
with a choker of perfect sharks' teeth,
hard, imperturbable as her squinty gaze.
Daily, during the summer months,

she takes fresh chicken necks, yanks string
around them tight as tourniquets,
grabs net and bucket and prances
the few yards from her shanty to the surf.
With nothing but her sense of touch, she works
her stringed necks like a master, easing
the net under the bellies of greedy crabs

and shaking them violently
to the bottom of her bucket. As she waits
for the next strike, she fixes her gaze
on the sea, matching its brute indifference
with the iciness of her stare,
the crabs clacking in the bucket like dominoes
shuffled by the age-blotched hands of old men,

fueling her dream of dropping big blue males
into a bubbling stockpot flaring her nostrils
with crab-boil, reddening their blue
in but minutes, their sweet, white meat
but briefly satisfying to her appetite
as the seven feckless husbands
whose cremated bodies she's dumped into the sea.

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