fiddler crabs fall from mangroves
into pocked mud. a wild metronome.
their bodies bounce and recover.
there’s no word for reverence
that feels adequate. this isn’t sunrise
or a flock of ten thousand cranes,
yet the ground makes music of
clumsiness. crab colonies climb,
drop, dig, pick algae from roots,
their faces all abubble with progress
that deadens only a second, until,
mud scooped from their periscope eyes,
they set off towards another tree.
i’ve been given so much in this life.
my brother caught the first sand crab
by accident; its small gray lobster-shaped shell
half-burrowed a few feet from the tide.
we didn’t notice as we mined wet sand
for yet another structure, hopeless summer
architecture destined for ruin. the sand crab
was so simple, so devoid of malice.
you can’t even eat em’, an onlooker spat
as the crab dug the pink depth of my palm.
this was something to hold.
let’s get more, i said. we have to get more.
we excavated a six-by-six beach plot,
all the bright buckets and plastic shovels
we could fill and sift for sand crabs.
we caught more, dug deeper and further.
we displaced smaller kids and towels
left by absent families. more, i rasped.
buckets heaped with neat layers of crabs
and sand. i stuck my hand into the earth,
clutched a gently writhing mess of legs.
by dusk, we’d rimmed four buckets,
all the crabs we’d never need, and i insisted
on bringing them back to the tiny rented house
down the street. we lined the catch
on the front porch: neat rows of life.
i hung there arms-crossed, shirtless, watched
bubbles pitter from the crest of each bucket.
what’ll you do with them now? an older cousin
asked. and i stood blank for hours, maybe years.