At Shaw’s Market the lobster tank sits
to the right of the fish counter, just left 
of the freezer with the fish sticks and frozen 
perch. Therein lie the lobsters, stacked like 
so many traps, brackish and silent, their pincers 
rendered useless, wrapped shut tight in yellow 
plastic. Scuttled into these briny and light-dulled 
shallows, they hulk like the wrecks of some 
forgotten sea floor. One evening, uneasy, 
I went home to read what I could: phylum, 
arthropoda – cousins to trilobites, crabs, insects, 
spiders. I studied the neurobiology, learned 
lobsters have hundreds of eyes but do not see, 
not exactly, and I thought of one I judged 
somnolent flinching his taped pincers at my 
reflection looming like an eclipse, my domestic-
ated glimpse into the deep, what terror
he must have felt coupled with an absence 
of sediment that must have felt like, well, 
nothing. Six hundred million years, I thought 
of him there, sedated, stunned by the salt light. 
The next day I returned intending to purchase 
several and set them free; failing, I drove by 
myself to the beach where I stared at the sea. 
Lobsters once ruled all I could see, their armored 
carapaces inviolable, feeding on anything that 
might be. Lords of the Cambrian prehistory, 
they crawled out of time and into the late 
Quaternary, which is to say, us, left to rule 
the world as we must. What thief waits for 
me, I can’t help but think, as I leave the store
with my groceries, feel my way through the lot
looking for my lost sedan, crawling with unease
through the summer dark and soft salt-breeze?

Copyright © 2003 by Anthony Walton. This poem was first printed in Bowdoin Magazine, Vol. 74, No. 2 (Winter 2003). Used with the permission of the author.