Back to Issue Nineteen.

from  crab studies [5]



5. Libinia Emarginata (Common Spider Crab)

We cranked him upward clinging
to the hook, recognized the dead
weight, absence of fin-jerk

and frustrated muscle of captive’s
shock.  Distracted by fortune,
excavating our ribbon of pleated

squid, he didn’t let go
until his back broke
the surface. Decades past

this instant, I remember
my father too often,
our bait intact and the ugly

crab dissolving as it sank
like a doomed theory or dream,
shaken, provisional, spindles

spread in the fathoms. Elation
of contact with something from
a world we couldn’t see

soon supplanted by disgust,
relief: his self-liberation
saving us from the business

of extracting that hook ourselves.

Ralph Sneeden‘s poems and essays are forthcoming or have appeared most recently in AGNIThe CommonEcotoneHarvard ReviewThe Southampton ReviewSouthwest Review and The Surfer’s Journal. His first book, Evidence of the Journey (Harmon Blunt, 2007), received an honorable mention from the Shenandoah/Glasgow Prize for Emerging Writers, and the title poem won the Friends of Literature Prize from Poetry Magazine. Other poems appeared in The Kenyon Review, New England Review, Ploughshares, The New Republic, Slate and other magazines. He was born in Los Angeles and has been teaching high school English for thirty years, in New Hampshire for the last twenty.

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