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Crab Analysis

Author: poem of Sharon Olds Type: poem Views: 10

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When I eat crab, slide the rosy

rubbery claw across my tongue

I think of my mother. She'd drive down

to the edge of the Bay, tiny woman in a

huge car, she'd ask the crab-man to

crack it for her. She'd stand and wait as the

pliers broke those chalky homes, wild-

red and knobby, those cartilage wrists, the

thin orange roof of the back.

I'd come home, and find her at the table

crisply unhousing the parts, laying the

fierce shell on one side, the

soft body on the other. She gave us

lots, because we loved it so much,

so there was always enough, a mound of crab like a

cross between breast-milk and meat. The back

even had the shape of a perfect

ruined breast, upright flakes

white as the flesh of a chrysanthemum, but the

best part was the claw, she'd slide it

out so slowly the tip was unbroken,

scarlet bulb of the feeler—it was such a

kick to easily eat that weapon,

wreck its delicate hooked pulp between

palate and tongue. She loved to feed us

and all she gave us was fresh, she was willing to

grasp shell, membrane, stem, to go

close to dirt and salt to feed us,

the way she had gone near our father himself

to give us life. I look back and

see us dripping at the table, feeding, her

row of pink eaters, the platter of flawless

limp claws, I look back further and

see her in the kitchen, shelling flesh, her

small hands curled—she is like a

fish-hawk, wild, tearing the meat

deftly, living out her life of fear and desire.

Anonymous submission.


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