Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

To an Uneaten Shrimp in a Sausalito Cafe

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

To an Uneaten Shrimp in a Sausalito Cafe

Article excerpt

TO AN UNEATEN SHRIMP IN A SAUSALITO CAFE

So, little prawn, what about your prana? Where did it go

in this confection of butter and garlic

you're half-dressed in, congealing on the Buffalo china?

Does wine embalm your shock

from the instant the net hauled you clear in a streaming crush

of squid, ratfish, cowfish,

all in a grip huge as God's in catastrophe mode, all suffocating

in a waterlessness the lesser powers

and dominions-like me-can breathe? If death is not just

a beheader and deveiner

who ices us one way or another, discarding our sensitive apparatus

and love of dancing around

in whatever medium sustained our respiration and aspirations,

then I should drop to my knees

in this starched white-napkin temple to one of the three mysteries,

the middle one, which takes the hand

of life and the hand of death, and marries eater to eaten

and says, It is well, and says, Amen.

I will not kneel, but I can bow over you and whisper

what I paid for the frutti di mare,

how I relished each guzzle and bite and scrape of the spoon

in the last blood-colored sauce

clinging to the bone-china tureen. And I can tell you,

my boiled insect, how depression

and age insert invisible spoons into my eyes and china skull

and sup, and make some unholy

dinner-table chat which I hear only as a high whine and rumble

and which, the ear specialist assures me

(being eaten like me, yes, even while he pontificates,

in his starched-napkin jacket,

the jargons of symptom and syndrome that prove him

merely a true believer

in the Physician's Desk Reference and New England Journal of

Medicine

to explain the invisible world),

assures me is simply decibel damage, the after-effect of years

of trying to be a guitar god. …

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