Incident

By Eamon Grennan b. 1941 Eamon Grennan

for Louis Asekoff

Mid-October, Massachusetts. We drive   
through the livid innards of a beast—dragon   
or salamander—whose home is fire. The hills   
a witch’s quilt of goldrust, flushed cinnamon,
wine fever, hectic lemon. After dark,
while water ruffles, salted, in a big pot, we four   
gather towards the woodfire, exchanging   
lazy sentences, waiting dinner. Sunk   
in the supermarket cardboard box,
the four lobsters tip and coolly stroke each other   
with rockblue baton legs and tentative
antennae, their breath a wet clicking, the undulant   
slow shift of their plated bodies   
like the doped drift of patients   
in the padded ward. Eyes like squished berries
out on stalks. It’s the end of the line
for them, yet faintly in that close-companioned air   
they smell the sea, a shadow-haunted hole to hide in   
till all this blows over.
                                     When it’s time,
we turn the music up to nerve us
to it, then take them one by one and drop   
in the salty roil and scald, then clamp
the big lid back. Grasping the shapely fantail,   
I plunge mine in headfirst and feel   
before I can detach myself the flat slap   
of a jackknifed back, glimpse for an instant   
before I put the lid on it
the rigid backward bow-bend of the whole body
as the brain explodes and lidless eyes   
sear white. We two are bound in silence   
till the pot-lid planks back and music
floods again, like a tide. Minutes later,
the four of us bend to brittle pink intricate   
shells, drawing white sweet flesh
with our fingers, sewing our shroud-talk
tight about us. Later, near moonless midnight,   
when I scrape the leafbright broken remains   
into the garbage can outside, that last   
knowing spasm eels up my arm again   
and off, like a flash, across the rueful stars.

Eamon Grennan, "Incident" from Out of Sight: New & Selected Poems.  Copyright © 2010 by Eamon Grennan.  Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, St. Paul, Minnesota, www.graywolfpress.org.

Source: Out of Sight: New & Selected Poems (Graywolf Press, 2010)

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Poet Eamon Grennan b. 1941

POET’S REGION Ireland

Subjects Eating & Drinking, Nature, Activities, Living, Fall, Death

 Eamon  Grennan

Biography

Born in Dublin, Eamon Grennan attended boarding school at a Cistercian monastery. He met Derek Mahon and Eavan Boland as an undergraduate at University College, Dublin, spent a year in Rome, and then came to the United States to earn his PhD at Harvard. He began writing poetry in earnest in 1977 and published his first collection, Wildly for Days, in 1983. He lives in the United States but returns frequently to western Ireland, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Eating & Drinking, Nature, Activities, Living, Fall, Death

POET’S REGION Ireland

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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