Taking an oyster

You’re underwater now, six feet down,
not needing to breathe, not yet,
moving like seal or otter, flying.

The crowbar in your hand
spoils the balance, adding life.
Here, the lip of an oyster, not gaping,

just two millimetres apart. You tap
on the upper shell. It snaps shut,
algae stirring with the movement,

proving life. Here, you raise
the crowbar and slam it in. Mud
and minute shell fragments drift off.

You slam it in again, the sound
brittle in this dense green, and again.
The oyster wrenches free, drifts and tumbles.

The need to breathe is pressing now.
You grab the beast and tunnel up.
Bursting through silver, you spout

like a dolphin and breathe. Soon
you’ll eat the muck you caught,
like your father, not exactly heroic,

just rich in the history of man.

- first appeared in Litnet (http://www.litnet.co.za)