Ming the Clam

Quahog two hooves clenched among two hundred brothers.

With an awl, someone counted your stairs
leading back to a dynasty:
five hundred years of tide,
near two thousand anvils of sunshine—

and you, fat in the castanet you made,
a home calcium, dedicated room.
If it weren’t for us, you’d be living
calm as a dawn

That’s where witnessing you alive—
as gazes tilt away from your lip,
a glint, the flashbulb rings of Saturn
seen through a lens, its ice flying apart

there sit the rings
a still, tilted hat—
here to find out
how to leave things alone

Copyright © 2023 by Cynthia Arrieu-King. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 29, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.