A Green Crab's Shell

Mark Doty

 
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. Used with permission.

Poems by This Author

At the Gym by Mark Doty
This salt-stain spot
Brian, Age 7 by Mark Doty
Broadway by Mark Doty
Under Grand Central's tattered vault
Couture by Mark Doty
Peony silks
Deep Lane by Mark Doty
Heaven for Helen by Mark Doty
Helen says heaven, for her
Heaven for Stanley by Mark Doty
For his birthday, I gave Stanley a hyacinth bean
Letter to God by Mark Doty
Paul's Tattoo by Mark Doty
Robert Harms Paints the Surface
of Little Fresh Pond
by Mark Doty
Surface the action of the day
Signal by Mark Doty
Spent by Mark Doty
Late August morning I go out to cut
The Embrace by Mark Doty
You weren't well or really ill yet either;


Further Reading

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Exoskeletal Gesture
by Eric Baus
Poems for Summer
Tempest, Act V, Scene I [Where the bee sucks, there suck I]
by William Shakespeare
A Boat, Beneath a Sunny Sky
by Lewis Carroll
A Boy and His Dad
by Edgar Guest
A Lesson for This Sunday
by Derek Walcott
A Path Between Houses
by Greg Rappleye
After Reading Tu Fu, I Go Outside to the Dwarf Orchard
by Charles Wright
Aftermath
by Tony Connor
Alice at Seventeen: Like a Blind Child
by Darcy Cummings
Anastasia & Sandman
by Larry Levis
And You Thought You Were the Only One
by Mark Bibbins
Arms
by Richard Tayson
August
by Algernon Charles Swinburne
Back Yard
by Carl Sandburg
Bed in Summer
by Robert Louis Stevenson
Daffy Duck In Hollywood
by John Ashbery
Fall Parties
by Becca Klaver
Fat Southern Men in Summer Suits
by Liam Rector
Fishing on the Susquehanna in July
by Billy Collins
For Once, Then, Something
by Robert Frost
Ground Swell
by Mark Jarman
I know I am but summer to your heart (Sonnet XXVII)
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
I see the boys of summer
by Dylan Thomas
I, Up they soar
by Inger Christensen
Idyll
by Siegfried Sassoon
If You Get There Before I Do
by Dick Allen
In Summer
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
In Summer Time
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
In the Mountains on a Summer Day
by Li Po
Jack
by Maxine Kumin
Jet
by Tony Hoagland
June Light
by Richard Wilbur
Let Birds
by Linda Gregg
Long Island Sound
by Emma Lazarus
Making the Bed
by Burt Kimmelman
Midsummer
by William Cullen Bryant
Mint
by Elaine Terranova
Miracles
by Walt Whitman
Muffin of Sunsets
by Elaine Equi
My Mother on an Evening in Late Summer
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On 52nd Street
by Philip Levine
On Summer
by George Moses Horton
On the Grasshopper and the Cricket
by John Keats
Poem at Thirty
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Poem for Adlai Stevenson and Yellow Jackets
by David Young
Psychoanalysis: An Elegy
by Jack Spicer
Rhode Island
by William Meredith
Sally's Hair
by John Koethe
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? (Sonnet 18)
by William Shakespeare
Solstice
by Ellen Dudley
Sonnet 7 [The soote season, that bud and bloom forth brings]
by Petrarch
South
by Jack Gilbert
Summer
by Amy Lowell
Summer at Blue Creek, North Carolina
by Jack Gilbert
Summer Holiday
by Robinson Jeffers
Summer Images
by John Clare
Summer in the South
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
Summer Night, Riverside
by Sara Teasdale
Summer Nights and Days
by Rachel Hadas
Summer Past
by John Gray
Summer Song
by William Carlos Williams
Summer Stars
by Carl Sandburg
Summer X-Rays
by Nina Cassian
Swimming in the Presence of Lurid Opposition
by Sawako Nakayasu
The Abduction
by Stanley Kunitz
The Family Photograph
by Vona Groarke
The Fishermen at Guasti Park
by Maurya Simon
The Fly
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The Idea of Order at Key West
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The Last Slow Days of Summer
by Phillip Lopate
The Magpie's Shadow
by Yvor Winters
The Philosopher in Florida
by C. Dale Young
The Summer House
by Tony Connor
The White Room
by Charles Simic
They'll spend the summer
by Joshua Beckman
This Lime Tree Bower My Prison
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Three Songs at the End of Summer
by Jane Kenyon
Vacation
by Rita Dove
Vertumnal [excerpt]
by Stephen Yenser
Vespers
by Louise Glück
Warm Summer Sun
by Mark Twain
Wildflower
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