Not muscle as in strong, but mussel as in
the blue-black stone that opens to orange flesh.
Axel, your kindness reminds me of those moments
when my brother and sister and I waited for the tide
to pull low, and in the flat that was left, lifted snails,
horseshoe crabs, fiddler crabs; watched bodies retreat,
sometimes killing them, sometimes throwing them
back to the water. Mussels we usually killed, not
believing our father when he said people eat them,
and we would hit a mussel with a rock for it to break
and for the orange and pink to show. It sounds cruel
but it was not. It was quiet. It was unquiet. It was a body
meeting another body. It was a body returning to water.
It was the color of the sky over the city when it is snowing.
How many things we wish we could define.
Monica Wendel’s first book, No Apocalypse, was selected by Bob Hicok as the winner of the Georgetown Review Press Poetry Manuscript Contest. She is also the author of three chapbooks, most recently English Kills, which won the Autumn House Press Coal Hill Review Chapbook Contest. She holds an MFA from New York University, where she was awarded Goldwater and Starworks teaching fellowships, and is an assistant professor of composition and creative writing at St. Thomas Aquinas College.
“Mussel” by Monica Wendel originally appeared at The Adirondack Review in the Fall 2012 Issue, Volume XIII No. 2