Read Poem: MEMORIES OF A BLUE BAYOU, by Terry Mulcahy

The Chesapeake* Bay
200 miles long
is a meteor crater
few people know that.
Home to blue crabs
bass, eel, oyster, horseshoe crab
ospreys, great blue herons,
bald eagles, and peregrine falcons.

Known for its bounty, but now –
fewer crabs, oysters and watermen.
Nutrient pollution and urban runoff
ruined water quality in the bay.
shellfish were “overharvested”
doublespeak for overexploited.

My dad took us crabbing
brother John and uncle George.
Chicken wings
attached to hemp string
wrapped around my wrist
dropped into the Bay.

Blue Crabs are scavengers
they eat anything
snails, bivalves,
other crustaceans, fish, worms,
and sometimes human bodies.

I could feel them tug
from deep below
out of sight.

Slowly, slowly, slowly
I pulled that long string up
too far and they were gone
sunlight scared ’em off.

A net on a long pole
in my other hand
as I pulled one up
ever so slowly
and
just, just, just
as they came into view
I’d slide that net under it
sneaky like – they spook easy –
and I kept pulling
until, right ——- there
I had it in the net
too late for escape.

But it had life left
so dump it in ice
quickly
flesh-tearing claws
are powerfully strong.

That went on all day
until we had two bushels
of feisty fighting crabs
safely stowed on our skiff.

Later, we’d dump the
lethargic cold crabs
right out on the floor
looking for dead ones
– you don’t eat dead crabs
they might have been sick.

You don’t have much time
they revive quickly
looking for a fight
and they move quickly
on linoleum-covered floors
fun to watch
but dangerous to fingers.

Then we put them into
blue and white-speckled enamel pots
– quart of vinegar in the bottom –
covered them with
cups of Old Bay spice
The crabs were steaming mad
but steamed to red death.

After that, they were dumped
onto tables covered in newsprint
for a family feast
accompanied by beer
and they were delicious.

Author: poetryfest

Submit your Poetry to the Festival. Three Options: 1) To post. 2) To have performed by an actor 3) To be made into a film.

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