When I see oystermen moving slowly at low tide
I think of my own labored summers—
pulling oysters from dark, tight mud
and from the sides of steep flats
between mussels and cord grass.

Kneeling in the warm mire, I felt simpler,
a terrapin, a horseshoe crab, oysters—
the whole colony breathing before me.

There is still something I long for, moving
like a creature over the cluttered bed,
picking the living among the dead.

Let me drive home to Long Island, Conscience Bay,
the shallow flats under geese and gulls,
then walk back years in a pair of canvas sneakers,
baskets full of oysters.