We took to the salt-sculpted docks
at sunrise, when the inlet
was a ribbon of mercury.
We tied chicken carcasses with rope
and sank them in the dark water,
pale skins dissolving like ghosts.
Later, we pulled them up,
bones pearly white,
a half dozen pinchers clinging.
We shook them into a bucket
and listened as they shifted like flints.
As we headed home, I lifted
the bucket and breathed deep
those restless lives of silence, silt.
Then we grabbed them from behind,
rushed them under running water, using
a steel brush to scrub the mud away, their
fine legs scurrying against nothing
and going nowhere.
I couldn’t. You said
it was okay, you said
they wouldn’t feel a thing,
and I believed you.
Afterwards, I watched you pry
the aprons, scoop the tomalley,
pluck the delicate legs like
petals, sucking sweet juices
from the tender bodies, watched
you pick apart the lives you’d taken
as if you believed they were yours.