by Kat Neis
Some mornings, my great uncle takes me with him
to empty the crab nets. I watch him grasp the buoys,
pull the chain riddled with algae through his palms;
the sun breathes translucent light into the ocean
& the gold chain on his neck glimmers cheaply.
We pull up the traps, the stone crabs brown & speckled.
Their claws rip at the air, spread out snow-angel, angered
by oxygen & sun. Something twinges in my chest.
I watch my uncle measure the claw with his thumb,
then toss the crab back or twist the claw off, his wrist
suddenly facing upwards, gray veins visible. Later,
at the fish market, I place the claws on ice chunks,
the sunset orange of them so brilliant I feel they are still living,
the essence of crab coursing through that color. I taste
the salt wind-dried on my lips & I think of the crabs
still in the ocean, feeble with one claw. For them, I’d like to say
a prayer over dinner, stone crab and asparagus—
before I crack the sunburnt shells, scrape the flesh off
with my front teeth—try to understand the sensation of a limb
once there, now severed, the loss of something,
or someone, I did not know I had.