Today's poem is by Betsy Andrews

[she's been here before the back beyond]

she's been here before the back beyond, this spider crab, this scavenger, bandida of the nets
before the gluing and the ungluing of the wild , wild west
before the butcher, baker, and candlestick maker washed up in their jalopy.
and disembarked their sloppy ark of pigs and sheep and donkeys,
who, having nothing more to eat, ate the island head to feet and burped a pile of gristle—
the monkey flower, bedstraw, lace pod, paintbrush swapped for European thistle;
before lift-off for a missile christened Come When I Whistle II
from the mani-pedi launch pad of this island nicknamed "fantasy" in the Kali Yuga dawn;
before Santa Ana winked her eye, dry as a Hollywood gimlet,
and peeled and twisted yachts like limes beached on the rims of inlets
before the island foxes rifled in the campersĀ· trash for snacks
the spider crab, headlamps on, humped her half-a-million burdens through their wrack
they called her grotesque, a tangle of tubers and ulcers and spines swiping their bait at the pier,
but language has no reason or rhyme for a crab with 500,000 babies and the next shed near
like Gulliver who hoisted Lilliputians to his shoulders, she draped herself in barnacles,
and the barnacles took a ride with the air ferns and the moss dogs and the pink hearts side by side;
that was moons ago, when adornment had its purpose as disguise
and her shell was just another face to wear, then cast aside
an arm was just an arm then—she had ten; she could abide one being pried from her
by sailing men who played her like a lyre, plucking at her strings,
and in the do-re-me of branding, called her "California king ";
it's a soup of stings, this ocean, it's a salt-broth Try Pots chowder
full of vampire birds and whiskered pelts and other sta rveling matter. she's braved it
going soft each time , revising, one conclusion to the next, carrying on
until this last of last of molts, the final text; she's done with drafts
doors and windows bolted, she will stay, at last, inside
the lesson of the crab, my love? advance, and then be still; in time, everybody dies.

Copyright © 2014 Betsy Andrews All rights reserved
from The Bottom
42 Miles Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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