Star-Gazing Clam

If I were a clam in my own muddy bank,
would I try to make pearls?
Or would I prefer to be an oyster
or a dark, mysterious mussel? Or perhaps to have legs
like a lobster? Would I be desperate
to go walkabout in the sea?

Or would I stick to my bed, seething
with desire, overdrawing my bank
account with Neptune, desperate
to make a pearl,
to be a queen among clams? Legs
won't take you everywhere, but look at the oyster -

the stolen, ravished, and steamed oyster -
destroyed for pearls and succulent flesh, seething
in the boiling pot. A clam with legs
could run away, hide beneath the weedy bank,
holding onto her pearl
desperately.

But in this desperation,
really, to a clam or an oyster,
what use is a pearl?
Awash in the cold sea,
upon what might one bank?
Would it be better to have legs?

If I were a clam with miraculous legs,
would I be desperate
to climb out of my bank
and leave mussel and oyster
behind in the sea?
Go chasing the stars - heaven's pearls?

Or would I be a pearl
among clams, modestly hiding my legs,
remaining in the cold and seething sea,
hiding my desperation -
clammed up? Would I be content to be sister to the oyster,
hidden in my chill, muddy bank?

There are stars like pearls in the heavens; I am desperate
for them. If I were a clam, I'd be frantic for legs. I'd never be an oyster
content to be steamed in my own sea. On this, rightly you may bank.

Copyright © 2001 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.

Your comments will be read with interest.