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Summer Days

Summers on Long Island where I grew up, meant the beach, with all it’s heat and salt and critters. We could go to the ocean side and be batted around by the waves or over to the more peaceful bay, where we could swim a straight line, dig for clams and have our toes tweaked by scuttling crabs. This beautiful poem by Marc Doty conjures up those summer days and at the same time goes so much deeper. Enjoy!

+Catherine

A Green Crab’s Shell (1953)

Not, exactly, green:
closer to bronze
preserved in kind brine,

something retrieved
from a Greco-Roman wreck,
patinated and oddly

muscular. We cannot
know what his fantastic
legs were like—

though evidence
suggests eight
complexly folded

scuttling works
of armament, crowned
by the foreclaws’

gesture of menace
and power. A gull’s
gobbled the center,

leaving this chamber
—size of a demitasse—
open to reveal

a shocking, Giotto blue.
Though it smells
of seaweed and ruin,

this little traveling case
comes with such lavish lining!
Imagine breathing

surrounded by
the brilliant rinse
of summer’s firmament.

What color is
the underside of skin?
Not so bad, to die,

if we could be opened
into this—
if the smallest chambers

of ourselves,
similarly,
revealed some sky.

From Atlantis, published by HarperCollins. Copyright © 1995 by Mark Doty. All rights reserved.