Michael Collier

To a Horseshoe Crab

Strange arachnid, distant cousin

of deer ticks and potato bugs,

those armored pellet

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




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