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Jennifer Litt



            after Gertrude Abercrombie’s “For Once in My Life, 1969”


I’m a living link to the ancient past

inside an intricate chambered shell—

I monitor & adjust to varying depths,

current direction & speed, thus keeping order

amidst chaos to earn Nature’s patience

& lately-wavering good graces.

I considered myself a Golden Spiral,

until scientists questioned my sacred

geometry. Pry open my exterior layer,

& a nacre opalescence will emerge.

A shell is a shell is a shell, w/o a pearl.

Be aware: I sail oceans, pull 180s with ease,

& I’m armed with tentacles & teeth.



Hinging on Romance


Foodie blogs advise us to eat wild oysters only

in months containing the letter r, so we carved

out Thursday evenings after Labor Day to hold

bivalve feasts at my bungalow on Fog Road. I

mastered the two-step dance of scrub & shuck,

uncovered the soft-bodied invertebrate I swear

was your heart floating in a mineral pool. I never

had to spit out shell once I tilted you to my lips

& consumed. In May you bypassed all oysters &

ordered us conch fritters. Season’s over, you said.

My I-Naturalist app clarified: Conch’s a gastropod

with powerful “feet” to paralyze & smother its food,

makes dinner easier to swallow. I have no season,

only this appetite for you. What to eat next?



The Oysters Labor On & On


            after “Oyster Farming” by Caroline Carney


unload their griefs in grassy

tides, their tongues murmuring

in humility for the spiritous mists

inhabiting the place. Scarred shells,

opening & closing their mouths, eat

tangles of trash, weight sticky pearls

of flesh, shut them in sunken graves.

Their crime is great art—to oxygenate

the sea & annihilate concerns for its

dying. White caps of gulls pass inland.

A beachcomber squats to prod the heart

of a fractured Venus & a mermaid charges—

drags the man to her cave by the hair,

snags his feet & eats them like air.


      A Sylvia Plath ekocento:

      Source poems: “Lady Lazarus,” “Two Lovers and a Beachcomber by the Real Sea,” “The Moon and the Yew Tree,” “Tulips”



Jennifer Litt is author of the poetry collection Strictly from Hunger (Accents Publishing, 2022) and the chapbook Maximum Speed Through Zero (Blue Lyra Press, 2016). Her work has been published in ellipsis . . . literature & art, Blue Earth Review, Gulf Stream, Jet Fuel Review, Naugatuck River Review, South Florida Poetry Journal, Stone Canoe, SWWIM Every Day, and Witchery. She lives in Fort Lauderdale with her cat Tiger Lily.


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