–After Toi Derricotte
We are crab fishing
off pier 7 in San Francisco
and he is trying to make something shine.
So perhaps, tossing a rusted cage over
the rail with a chicken thigh
hanging in the center
like a bone stuck in a throat
will make something shine.
He reels back the line
and opens the cage to hold
a crab almost translucent against the light.
I unravel another crab—
laced together like the fingers of a nun—
that can pass for the moon
reflected in the spoon of a woman
having dinner overlooking the bay.
He hooks more chicken
as he begins to sing something that isn’t English
so that people walking by
only see a man kneeling over a cage
as if kindling tinder for a fire on his lap.
Later in the day, standing by the stove,
he drops the crabs in a pot to boil.
He lets them cool on a plate and
with surgical precision, punches
a hole with both thumbs through
the plastic abdomen.
And because we don’t have permits,
because he thinks this dinner was free,
he looks at me from across the table
and smears a look of joy
across his face with his palm
as if he has just gotten away with murder.
*Originally published in Toe Good Poetry*