Michael Collier

To a Horseshoe Crab

Strange arachnid, distant cousin
of deer ticks and potato bugs,
those armored pellets
who live between bark and wood,
stone and dirt.
Unlike them you wash up
hapless on beaches
more a bowl than a shoe.


You come in squads
after mating in the waters
of your birth, dragging the useless scabbard
of your tail.


Often you die
still attached, fucked
but not fucking, though once
I watched the loved one
drag her expired lover in a circle
before she died too.


And sometimes
in your death throes
you capsize on the sand, which means
you turn up not down
and your legs row at nothing
so for a while you keep the flies away
but not the merciless fleas.


                            for José Emilio Pacheco

Michael Collier
“To a Horseshoe Crab” first appeared in Ploughshares, Spring 2007.