Stone Crab Fossil
My daughter and I
wear our matching crab T-shirts.
We are known for our prickly natures,
our quick defenses.
We stare at Ocalina floridana,
which, though dead, reaches out
as if for rescue with its fat claws —
now pale, delicate shades of gray rock,
not orange and black as in life:
a desperate ghost crab.
Entombed in mud for millennia,
turned slowly to stone
by seep of minerals. The flesh
would have been delicious
with melted butter. Side-walker,
harbinger of bad luck, omen of the great flood,
enemy to all snakes, brave
in the face of death, the humble crab
goes down swinging. The crab does not run
from danger, the crab does not abandon
pride in the moment of attack.
When I was pregnant with her,
I had a taste for crab-cakes.
Sometimes I wear a hard shell,
sometimes I wish I could shed it,
leave it rolling down the beach
while I slip back into the clear water.
This year she learned to read,
tells me the name of everything
in the museum. Sometimes, just like me,
she doesn’t want to talk, she wants
to be alone. I hope someday,
should she ever have need,
she seeks me out, reaches toward me
in her distress, lets me in again.