Tim Mayo’s poems and reviews have appeared in Narrative Magazine, Poetry International, Poet Lore, River Styx, Salamander, San Pedro River Review, Tar River Poetry, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Verse Daily, Web Del Sol Review of Books, and The Writer’s Almanac. His first full-length collection, The Kingdom of Possibilities, was published by Mayapple Press in 2009. His second volume of poems, Thesaurus of Separation, is forthcoming from Phoenicia Publishing in July 2016. A five-time Pushcart Prize Nominee, and a top finalist for the Paumanok Award, Mayo lives in Brattleboro, Vermont.
The Mussel Pickers
Out of the belch and foam of whales,
the slap and splash of the big fin,
out of the ambergris depths
of the great leviathans, comes the moment
they have waited for.
Out of the pop and dip of harbor seals,
their bobbing heads’ glistening black sheen,
out of the chop and lurch of the big waves,
they see the sea’s slow, slate-colored ebb,
its weakening recession at dusk or dawn,
and the impoverished bounty of brown
Out of the feather-green of the bayside grasses,
out of the spiked bastions of fir and spruce,
they come descending the granite-gray cliffs
down to the jagged depths of rock and water,
and there . . . amid the foam-lathered and steepled stone,
they cut free the salt-raw tangles of filaments,
their thongy, ragged lengths from the bastioned boulders,
and tugging the barnacled-white and steel-blue shells
by the rough tendrils of their anchors, they raise
the dangling clusters: skyward, blue-ward and to the clouds,
then, from the salt-grit and slick of this unearthing,
they, once again, trumpet and proclaim:
Blessed are the animals of the sea
the fast fin and leap of those that swim,
the slime and squeeze of the slow ones,
and the calcified castles of the immovable.
Blessed are the pluck and harvest,
the brine-becoming-beauty and taste of them.
Blessed, blessed, are we, the mollusk-eaters,
our slurp and drool––even the lip-smackers among us,
for they, too, have touched the beards of mussels.