Oyster, Oyster

Carrie Addington

The oyster must get tired of waking up so hollow

          brackish and briny, gathered

          from bed, pried open and shucked

and don’t forget the delicacy,

          it is after all merely a bone, a delicate bone,

          jawed and clenched, locked down around itself.

It has been said that to be open is to be dying.

          I have decided to try again.

          You watch my face as the oyster slides down,

texture stealing language from my tongue, congealing

          and collecting in the back of my throat,

          yearning for cling, and I wonder what it would be

to die from oyster choking. In this moment, you register

          intention as if you and the oyster had it all

          worked out, this slow dying off I should have,

as you chant Oyster, Oyster, and I think of how the oyster

          relaxes, opens hingelike, pumps colorless blood

through three chambers of the heart and how threes

          are about as much as people can take,

          and how I should like to become calcified

and shell-bearing, how I’ve always wished to sink to the bottom

          of something vast. The freshness of the water, the fresh

          water wipes free the mantel and all that is behind the head is visible.

I’ll begin to doubt most of what’s happened here

          and you’ll be mostly uncomfortable. I’ll think

          of encasement and that hollow shell and whether

it is to be returned or burned and slaked

          and if there is any better thing to describe

          this discomfort, this constant

sliding down.

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