My father lets down
The little drawbridge of his pickup truck,
A span of plywood planks on the back gate
Held level by hook and chain,
And dumps from the damp burlap
A load of locked doors
We've bough to break and enter,
Taking our spade-sharped knives
To the sharp and silted ridges of the oyster shells.

Almost safe inside the heavy canvas gloves,
Mule-brand, the fingers chewed through
By snags of ragged metal his acetylene
Cut back from the junked bodies of cars,
We look for leeways in the trap,
Any edge the blade can pry and widen,
Leverage to spring the hinge. I set aside
The hard ones for my father's savvy hands.
From the lusters of the bottom lid,
We split the raw attachments
And pour it all in a plastic pail--
Brine and gill plates and mantle--
My mother's turn now to turn
This plump meat seasoned by the sea
Into soups and stews and poboy loaves
(Dredged in cornmeal, drowned in deep fat).

It's one more long Sunday when dinner waits
For my brother to drive down, late,
Through the pinesap airs of Hammond,
And for my sister to bring herself, late,
Across the white bridges, twin humps
On the billowed back of Lake Pontchartrain.

And so my father and I stand opening
The closed chambers, the cold valves,
And from these cups of calcium
Drink to each other a liquid
Of salt and grit, the oysters
Easing down like lumps in the throat.

:: Elton Glaser, in Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review #2 (1993)

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