The Lobster Sestinas

By Davis, Angela J. | The Antioch Review, Spring 1996 | Go to article overview

The Lobster Sestinas


Davis, Angela J., The Antioch Review


I. Confession.

A Dutch still life, green to perfect red from the metamorphosis in fire and water of this once great, star-fish ripping centipede, his raptor hands now closed, each blind eye composed on its wiry stem, but still a part of his magnificence, the gangster of the sea.

You could never bear the thought of this sea creature burned alive, preferring your blue and red rack of lamb, roasted in the open and split apart with stems of rosemary, garlic in half-moon cloves, no water need touch its flesh, no feathery swimmerets offend your eye let alone inspire tales of a fabled dying hiss.

Nerval strolled the Seine with a lobster on his leash, or so it is said, insisting the tethered sea creature presented no greater incongruence to the eye than the spaniels nosing what remained from the red weathered drunks, singing and pissing into the water. Whether the poet saw any absurdity in ripping apart

the carcass he leaves to our speculation, as if to impart a blessing (or at least a permission) we might draw from his odd promenades to toss a living thing in boiling water. Perhaps he knew of their ignoble birthings at sea billions, at once, no larger than mosquitoes, not red but transparent, floaters and gliders in the eye

of splash storm from a mother lobster, no whisker or eye to guide these micro lobsterlings as their eely mouths would part for everything, including each other, a prefiguring of their red and hapless fate, from calcium coloratura to desperate hiss last salt water gasps of the gangsters of the sea plunged from boatyard crate to scalding water.

I have stood slicing lemons, waiting for the water to reach full boil and If God is a lobster, I am in trouble, but a Hell from the sea could be preferred, my limbs numbed first, then shred apart in the lobster's fists, his crusher and cutter forcing a hiss from my marrow and drawing to my bones an irresistible red.

"A gradual heating of the water is more humane," I once read, but blanched to imagine the foam on his eye, the hiss of sea slowed still in his limbs, before their red and final split apart.

H. Nocturne

Lavender breezework lowering the sails, a hint of rain Clearing the boardwalks before the violet blue ocean of night opens and rises and the first pair of stars appears. But while the spaniels lie and bloodhounds bay under cover of this August night a lobster king has gently turned his queen upon her back.

No thoughts of lobsterlings disturb the queen upon her back who has shed a shell and left her burrow for the rain of his perfume. Far from boatyard crates, the union of this night comes only once or twice a year: bubbles from the green and blue sea grasses rise in the shallows, for a minute they lie crusher and cutter in one another, the lobster pair.

Only human invention would think to pair the green centipodals, lacking bone of back with a beef Bourbonnais or a bisque to belie the mud huts clawed in the true terrain of the pugilist sea creatures rocking beneath the blue still of sea on a star-pinned night.

Not all are green; hues among the gangsters of the sea vary as blossoms on a Texas prickly pear. Rose and amber lobsters roam, and the celebrated cobalt blue as well as calicos, who when turned upon their back show signs of sexual confusion as well, but perhaps full rein of the ocean's gardens' earthly delights in burrows lie

for the asking of these scorpions whose unmatched claws belie a dexterity and range of options wider than the night itself, infinite as a violet band of Heaven after rain, a deserved ecstasy, perhaps, for such a pair for whom a pot not of gold, but boiling water will take back to lobster heaven, with its infinity of urchins and blue

flowering sea grass where the bubbles once blew from lobster lovers content to rock and lie in shallows flecked with light flashed back from lobster boats docked below a star-pinned night, the dome below which we, too, kiss and our blue shadows pair, night blooming flowers in the ribbons of summer rain. …

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