Home > Poetry > How to Eat a Lobster
Published: Thu Jul 1 2010
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
How to Eat a Lobster

First snap the legs in two and suck the meat.
The shell, if soft, will bend then break, voil.
The flesh is tender, pink, and strangely sweet.

Then grasp the pliant weaker arm, and neat
and quick, give it a twist: it comes right off.
But first, the legs: break them and suck the meat.

Break the arms again where claw and knuckle meet
(abandon decorum, savor the free-for-all,
the way a bruise feels earned or blood tastes sweet).

Next take the body, wring it like a sheet
so that the tail comes off, innards soft as moss.
Dilettantes rinse the tomalley from the meat.

Then split the tail into a ragged V:
the brown intestine gleams like a wound still raw,
a dark mutation of Handel’s Water Suite.

Lobster is best in the catatonic heat
of summer, when every law is at a loss-
first you break the legs and suck the meat.
The flesh, the body, is how tender—how sweet?

Jessica Murray has had poems published in 32 Poems, Birmingham Poetry Review, Hiram Poetry Review, and Memorious. She has an MFA from the University of Florida and teaches English as a Second Language in Boston. (updated 3/2010)

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