Bards & Brews Reader

Bawlmer Crabs


My granddaddy split-legged, blue-jeaned,
clothed in a long-tailed Henley.
His ass plastered to a turned-up bucket
above a picked mass of blue crab,
a bushel or two of the twos stewed
burnt orange. Stripped the aprons off,
the ruffle of gills, the guts. Mallet-
cracked the claws, then a few swigs
from a brew, for sure Blue Ribbon,
Natty Boh or both. Or worse,
jamjar filled with water-cut white dog
he scared me from with the warning story
of a high school first-string halfback
struck blind by a sip. Granddad & me,
we filled the kitchen nook of his
double-wide. Strong whiffs of vinegar,
the sharp cut of Old Bay, we’d smell of it
for days. His shift-work curse words
once scrubbed from too much church
found again his mouth, the riddles
he rehearsed to feel witty: buy up,
fix up, die in: your coffin. I waited
for him to finish scraping the shells
with the curved hook of his fingers, meat
from chamber to bowl, the leftover legs
left to the newsprint he laid at our feet.
Unhinged & opened, each pincher
limp, the last of what made them them,
made them dangerous. He ate not
slipshod but deliberately the fluttered
heart & lungs with a motion I copied
to be close. Yet a weak echo: my sharp,
avian body held against becoming
by the feast we filled the silence with.

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