The Oyster Gatherer
for John Towers
He dances the flats, gleaner of tides
in yellow knee highs, snatches
the creatures that spit & cough, rugged
razors of lavender, sphagnum, peach —
throws out the sprung ones,
mudders, black hearts sliding
into rockweed, kelp, & knotted wrack.
Each winter, when the Gulf
bottoms out, he goes, salt-licked
& nerve-numb, legs tireless reeds —
sea ducks further out
towards Winnegance, the sun
low & glowing off vacant
summer homes. It’s work,
the way love is, being a friend,
building a house,
or after the shucking, chopping
garlic & lime. He’s learned
to see past reflections —
birch, white pine, sky —
to mud & clay, what’s there.
Now the clatter & drainage
of his perforated spackle bucket
filling up: listen, listen.
The Oyster Gatherer is from Odd Botany, (Silverfish Review Press 2002).