Garland, After a Lesson about Oysters
by Wendy DeGroat

Mary Garland Smith (b. 1868), Baltimore, c. 1876

Their rough teardrops clutter the harbor’s beach,

shuckers’ discards chucked for gulls to clean.

I pluck one from a heap, stroke my thumb across its milky bowl.
 

In Essex, we’d pour bushels onto tables in the lawn

tap shells with open mouths to check that they’d snap shut,

sign they were alive and safe, said Mama, for eating—
 

sweet Rappahannock oysters, insides soft as butter on the tongue.

The harvest pulled from these waters is briny, tough.

Oysters, my teacher says, carry the taste of the place they’re from.

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 22, Issue 1.

wendy-degroat-sqWendy DeGroat is a librarian in Richmond, Virginia, where she also teaches writing workshops and curates poetryriver.org. Her poems have appeared in Rust + Moth, Raleigh Review, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Rogue Agent, Heron Tree, Mslexia and elsewhere. Her chapbook Beautiful Machinery is available from Headmistress Press.

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