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Barbara A Audet

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Member Since: Jan, 2008

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Barnacles
by Barbara A Audet

Tuesday, January 29, 2008
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           >> View all 11

Barnacles

The day the we of us died,
I discovered looking.
Barnacles,
Came to me first.
A foot’s reaction.
Along the water’s fringe,
A saving jolt.
A cut, the second of my day.
Not the deeper of the two.
Reaching down,
I grasped first one, then two
Then three pieces—
Coral, I thought
Wrong, he said, glancing down.
As he gathered his
world into the trunk
Of a waiting car.
He leaned, leaned toward my face.
“Barnacles, dear—they’re worthless.”
He left then. Leaving me
Worthless with my strange catch.
Crusted red, pink-edged
With toothy mouths
Like fences of bishop’s miters.
In my hands, I felt them tremble,
The hold on life,
The hold on breath
between my fingers,
Staggering my palm.
Green slime-scented, still
I carried them into the kitchen.
They were dying. I knew it.
They were out of the sea.
Only worthless because of movement.
A bowl holds the shells,
ready for bleaching.
Soap and sand.
I cradle the barnacles
Under a blasting faucet
and saw fading tenacity,
The giving up of the hold
Of a calcite home.
Into the old copper-bottomed pot
Its handle smeared
With white oil paint,
Water and salt
Boiled over.
In went the barnacles
Tossing right and left,
In the heaving of rebirth.
The smell of their dying
Lingered.
Then the air cleared
The barnacles, just shells,
Sparkled.
Free of the need to cling.

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