Kate Horowitz

Kate Horowitz is a poet, science writer, and essayist in Washington, D.C. Her work has been published widely, most recently in Qu, Bourgeon, and Quail Bell magazines, and in the book Unrequited: An Anthology of Love Poems about Inanimate Objects. She tweets @delight_monger.

 

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.

 

 

 

II.

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 soft 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.

 

 

 

III.

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.

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