Lucinda Kempe lives in an Arts & Crafts style house on Long Island where she exorcises with words.
She came to the beach to jog but stands watching the bodies that litter the sand on Callahan’s Beach. A spring event, hundreds of horseshoe crabs arrive on the shores of Long Island Sound to mate. Stuck in the tide shallows, scattered near the dunes, the crabs flounder half buried in the sand. Many are dead. Some, turned by the water onto their backs, wave their crusty legs, their underbellies exposed for the hovering gulls and crows. Others lie piggybacked in curious alignment.
Often in her dreams, a handsome, white-haired lover arrives, sates himself and goes. Shaken, she awakes feeling like a teacup wobbling on a window ledge. In the daytime, another man pursues her around the house with pelting questions.
“What did you do with the copper pot I sauté my tomatoes in?” he asks.
“Inside the big Calphalon container,” she replies.
“Why do you hide everything?” His fist slams the counter. The porcelain in the cabinets above rattles.
She doesn’t answer. An exhausting exchange, it reminds her of a poem she loves, “Not Waving but Drowning.”
The wind from off the Sound blows. Swallows dip and dive into their bluff holes with their wrenching and irritated cries. The Latino fishermen reel in their catches, ignoring the distress around them. She longs to lose herself in the one-two movement of a jog, but the crabs hold her. Run or rescue?
She moves and flips a small crab over with her foot. Stooping to grab the end of his prickly, whip-like tail, his legs flail as she dashes him to the water’s edge. Next, she tackles a larger crab closer to the surf. Off he goes with a piece of driftwood. Finally, she concentrates on a pair of encrusted lovers. Impossible to budge, the female—an enormous brown-barnacled disc—has a comparatively smaller consort adhered to her rear. One jerk, she disengages him and races with the primeval package to the water’s lip. She inserts him in the lapping waves and stands watching as he inches off into the deeper waters. Glancing back at the female crab, she wonders if she discerns her newly altered state.
As for him, she doesn’t ponder fate.
Her feet fly towards the hard-packed sand so good for running.