"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.