The Dancing Satyr; Meaning; Crab in a Mussel Shell

The Dancing Satyr

I have been dancing 2000 feet deep,
dancing too for as many years,
a figure of ecstasy, rapture of the deep.

I sent up a limb in a fisherman’s net,
then toiled the same way up to join it.
I have been dancing 2000 feet deep.

Frozen from birth in my bronze flesh,
I was born to dance and be motionless,
born into ecstasy and the rapturous deep.

I sank with head thrown back, spine bowed,
with mother-of-pearl in my unclosed eyes.
I have been dancing 2000 feet deep.

And those members I have parted from,
right leg, arcing tail, both arms,
still figure in ecstasy, rapt in the deep.

Whether on the sea floor in the dark
or bathed in lights in my own museum,
still I am dancing centuries deep,
a rapture of bronze and ecstatic sleep.

Mazara del Vallo


While she spoke I saw another encounter.

And then she said there was the drowning heron
who called to her from the whitewater
and another time the owl in daylight
who flew past her window more than once,
the bear who loped through her camp
when her dad died, the cloudless sky
over her mother’s burial plot
where two vapor trails suddenly crisscrossed.
She would not let me go without
another word, another anecdote.
Nothing escaped her hunt for meaning, meaning.

And the kestrel swooped from the treetop,
struck the moth, and looked me in the eye.
Crab in a Mussel Shell
Clever to have squeezed in,
as the host filtered its
meal under the tide line,
to have clambered over
the massive valves, a small
white creature in the gloom,
seeking and seizing an
opportunity. Snug,
hungry, nibbling as in
a nursery rhyme: “How she
gnawed it how she clawed it
when she found herself alone!”
Yet you found yourself not
alone, not like that, but
harvested, raked into
a bag, still unaware
or beginning to sense
the pickle you were in,
muffled in the soak as
the doors shut tight. And when
at last they opened, you
could have taken your leave,
sated. Instead you had
no choice but to lie there,
poached like an egg, death-pink.