Picking Crab · Max Heinegg

Stripped of his armor, the crab’s still admirable.
Micah reminds me not to pull too quickly-
the big claw’s best broken slowly.
Its translucent blade of cartilage brandishes
a hollow threat, but a gesture I respect.

This largesse once joined the bugs
my brother-in-law calls loppers, sideways walkers
who crossed the trap’s kitchen to the parlor,
baited by racks of the same silver & blue sea
herring they scour the rocky bottom for.

He’s done the brunt already, boiled both cancers,
the Jonah & the Rock, removed the plate,
brushed away the dead man’s fingers, saved me
admitting I don’t want the tomalley.
I cheat further with scissors, & roll a pin

over his barbed legs, the thin chambers
damp, shells clinging to the flesh. Salty
nutcrackers & picks menace the broken
exoskeleton. This hour for ounces, jaded
by fragments, after the lump sum.

Max Heinegg's work has been nominated for the Pushcart and Best of the Net, and was a finalist for the poetry prizes of Asheville Poetry Journal, December Magazine, Crab Creek Review, Cultural Weekly, and Cutthroat Journal, among others. He lives and teaches in Medford, MA where he is the co-founder and brewmaster of Medford Brewing Company.