© Ava Leavell Haymon.
Used by permission.
All rights reserved.
ordering at Phil’s Oyster Bar in Baton Rouge
Gulf oysters are milky, grown fat
in braising seawater. The Gulf’s a warm pool,
on chuffy oil burners, a crock pot
of Guatemalan blood and Cajun spices.
My father spoke of other beds, of blind tongs
groping to a clean salt shoal: Virginia tidewater,
him fresh from the seminary, before he’d failed, asea
with a smiling deacon host in a small boat.
Under their boat, I see an oyster crunch away
from its drowned bed, snapping aloose
like pliers a dentist clamped on my deadened tooth
once, and bumped off with a careless elbow.
Sometimes they just won’t open, he’d tell me,
slumped against his forearms on the metal table.
No matter how you jab at the hinge
with that stubby knife.
He’d eat them with me, at Phil’s, and say Obliged.
But mainly he would see the open boat.
The cold Atlantic bitterness. The favor. I’d see
pearls, spilling from his mouth like a god’s.
Text prepared by:
- Bruce R. Magee
© Ava Leavell Haymon. Used by permission. All rights reserved.