Rerun One: The Death of the Lobster

The Death of the Lobster

To know the future
there must be a death.
Hand me the axe.

Margaret Atwood, from "Circe/Mud Poems"

The death of the lobster will commence quietly.
One night, she will awake
and find her shell slightly too snug.
Her shell has stopped growing.
She has not.
Tomorrow, her shell will be tighter,
the next day, tighter still.

Her shell is everything
that holds her, inside and out. It is
the legs that click her across her cave.
It is the teeth in her stomach
that grind fish into food.

The constriction will continue.
She will lose
her appetite.

She, then, will waste away,
a diminishing prisoner
within a shrinking cell. 

The time will come. Her time. 
She will pump her shell
with sea water, more, more,
until it cracks.

She will wrench 
the lining from her guts
and pull it from her mouth,
a conjurer's string of scarves.

She will withdraw
withered arms from rigid sleeves.
She is too weary
to be doing this. Still, it needs
to be done.

She will thrash her body
through the rupture in her armor.

The world will go black.

It will feel like dying,
and it is.

But it is not the end.

Beneath her split shell
she has grown another,
flimsy and mica-thin.

When she wakes,
she will flood this young covering
with water, filling
until it inflates, solidifying
by the moment.

Before long, she will have claws
that will hold. Legs to stand on.
Teeth to feed her.

She will rise
on new feet. She will raise the broken shell
to her mouth
and start eating.

The old house will never be home again.
Yet from this calcium-rich rubble
she will pick good bricks
and build another.

Originally published in Public Pool

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