Birthmark
The crabs seethe in the bushel basket.
Their bodies are serrated armor
colored Crayola blue and red, shiny
and brittle as Bakelite cigarette cases.
They are defined most by their claws,
an ironic capitulation to the problem
with hardness. One by one, Grandma
grabs them with tongs and drops them
into the pot filled with cold beer.
But one gets loose. It hits the floor
and all the life comes back to it. It waves its claw
and scuttles. Later, my grandmother
will swear the fright this gave her
stamped the image of a crab
on the belly of my father.
Because our bodies are not enough,
they must be made
to include stories.
But what of the crab?
No one ever says: The end
is forgotten, the story’s purpose
fulfilled. For all we know,
something dangerous is still moving
in the body of the house.
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