Four crabs from the cold firth
alive for a shilling. The largest
reared in the pot, in spite of
the fierce water, but soon
we cracked his limbs with our teeth
and wheedled with spoons and fingers
for the last shreds of flesh
from the crannies of his briny body.
In that brittle maze
I found no features to remind me
of our brains, our livers
or our smooth bellies, yet doubtless
their functions were held by some part
of the paste of his cavities.
Spread, soup and risotto –
only the gills were rejected.
In the days we ate him
I did not forget
his moment on the floor
to amuse the baby, when she
gloated at the slow clash
of his last menace,
nor that shape which made me think
of a soft soldier
fried in the cockpit of a tank.