February 12, 2011

Oysters on the Half-Shell


My brother and I with various relations set out
hand-in-hand down shadow-clasped lanes.
Clouds dancing with sunbeams, wind playing with my hair-
the day I first had oysters on the half-shell.

Whiffs of Eucalyptus, my mother’s smell to me
called us further into the valley,
till the great trunks, like sentries, as we passed bowed away
and we found ourselves on market street.

Tents, an encampment, lining the square-
their admirals busy selling their wares-
while civilians rushed, oblivious of war,
to buy peaches and strawberries and pears.

We wove our way, like cats in a kitchen,
through the masses and hubbub of happiness,
till one stand we came to, full of oysters on ice
and my uncle bought four to share.

They looked like old men (yes, they did), to me-
oiled and wrinkled with age.
But the murmurs of wonder, and licks of delight
caved my spirit, and I said, “I’ll try a bite.”

The sauce went on, the hand was held out,
and the oyster was put to my mouth.
Oh, horror! On the shell of an oyster!

The sauce was all gone, I’d have spit it out-
but ice bulk of the oyster filled my mouth.
I gagged and I gulped and I smiled through my tears,
my tongue massaging my teeth.

“Do you like it?” they asked. I don’t know what I said.
 I swallowed, murmuring something to pass time.
 And the next thing I knew, it was over and done
and we moved on under the smirking sunshine.


  1. My husband loves them, and I tolerate them. :)

    Cool picture. And I love the image of cats in a kitchen.

  2. Thanks, Jennifer! I tolerate clams and can choke down mussles. But eish, that was a baaaad oyster experience... Huge, freezing cold, and plain. ;-)