and clearly the fire of life is flickering out there. Its upper shell, the shape
of a long seashell, wears its overlapping sidings, eight of them, all delicate
brown, shaded as if it were some great cloth made for delicate wrists. The
two antennae look bent and discouraged. When I turn it over with the tip
of my Pilot ballpoint pen, the white legs move appealingly, even though
my first response is confusion, as when we see the messy underside of
any too-well-protected thing. It has twelve legs, six on each side, pale as
tapioca. There are two pincers that come out to protect the head from
hostile knights; or perhaps the pincers are meant to take hold of food.
What else could they be?
I guess that it has exhausted itself, perhaps over weeks, trying to escape
from this cloisonné dish on my desk. This dish is too little to hold a
breakfast roll, and yet it is a walled Sahara to this creature, some
courtyard in which the portcullis is always closed, and the knights, their
ladies, their horse-drangers always, mysteriously, gone.
The sharp lamplight lit up the dish; it is odd that I did not see him
before. I will take him outdoors in the still chill spring air and let him
drink the melted snow of late afternoon on this day when I have written
of my father stretched out in his coffin.