Maine artist & gallery owner Heidi Reidell recently shared this poem with me and it struck a chord. As a native Mainer (relocated now) I’ve eaten my fair share of lobsters. This poem captures the quiet, habitual movement and mental absorption that comes with being an experienced lobsta picka. I notice occassionally that people operate in this mode more than we realize– a kind of passive consciousness that allows us to function while ignoring large chunks of the world. (Driving for example. Every once in a while I’ll notice with horror that I’m hurtling very quickly along a hard surface in a metal can very close to other hurtling metal cans.) It’s an important tool for staying sane.
I love the strange cognitive dissonance that comes at the end of this piece when the narrator regards her husband with the same eyes and headspace she’s used with the lobsters. That is exactly how I feel when I emerge from my studio or get interrupted when making work.
Earlier I was watching my mother under the upstate sun
eating-out the egg-filled ovary of a very pregnant lobster
guts and juices squirming down her chin
12 lobsters yield one perfect quart of meat
I’m wearing hot pink latex kitchen gloves
and a gardening apron
literally ripping them apart:
muscle baby legs, red rock roe, white claw flesh
roughly slopping in oil
I finish up
when you walk in
barefoot as a cool stone slab
all man and mass
a giant, meaty organism
which seems completely strange.
by Myriah A Hampton, Boston MA