A Balance for Mike by Josh Gaines
We caught 88 crabs
in fifty minutes at tide
going out, we’d brought them up
by threes like it was personal and
I can’t remember why we stopped.
Maybe we’d shed enough gulf blood
for one sunset. Maybe
it was a matter of weight.
When I stumbled, dropped the cooler,
stood sore and wheezing, you marched
back, and lifted it into your car
like it was empty.
At your home we boiled them by batches
and drank the best beer we could find
at a 7-11, in Florida,
on a Sunday.
By nightfall, the last dozen boiled
while our fingers ached raw from fighting
chitinous shells that broke against our
patience allowing us access to the softest parts.
By midnight’s aging side, wives asleep
on the couch, felines purring dandruff
at our ankles, and the beer gone,
we had opened wine tagged for sangria,
and we drank it anyway.
“What about 5 am?” you asked.
You asked these things sometimes but rarely
meant them. We’d be up no earlier
than we needed. This came before children when time
was ours, before Alaska and the trading of wings.
Patience and four pounds of crabmeat
waited between us.
When we were done, and done,
and done, you offered a silent toast,
an empty glass full of good reasons
for the things we do.
I tried to lift my glass to yours.
When it wouldn’t move I said
I hadn’t trained for this. You shrugged,
tossed yours back, left the table:
seated while you cleaned,
tapped my watch for dreaming,
stared into that immovable glass,
and marveled at your strength.
© 2016 by Josh Gaines