"Over Oysters" by Jessica Gregg

They wrangle over the rain tax,

the veined pipelines beneath

this bedrock democracy,

climate change and the crumbling

second-grade, Styrofoam diorama

of igloos that sinks with it.

His words, not hers.

They consider spies, Ukrainians,

Canadians, trap music, endangered

species and problems in policing. 

All the while dropping names, hints,

insults. Each pleads the case of cause 

and finding no common ground, no gap 

to patchwork quilt with flirty strategy

or goodwill, they retreat. Momentarily.

They drink their beers and consider

what they will tell their friends. 

Then he makes a joke about bipartisan 

bivalves and her laugh hangs over

the shellac-shined tables from which

the scent of beer seeps. Shells clank 

like castanets. They eat what’s still alive, 

their fingers sift into piles of salt, 

little hourglasses. He wants to kiss 

her hands, her mouth. This is the cycle, 

we feed the earth, it feeds us. 

Together, they eat a plate of oysters, 

but never see each other again.

Jessica Gregg is a former writer-in-residence at Baltimore's Yellow Arrow House. Her poetry chapbook "News from This Lonesome City" was published by Finishing Line Press in 2019. Her work appeared in the American Writers Review's "Art in the Time of COVID-19" in Summer 2020.