Shell Game

Oysters, and a few clams i the back.

Oysters are of the sea. Of the rough and tumble sandy, rocky, salty sea. Of dark skies and storms that cold boil brackish water.

The chassis of an oyster tell you that they mean business. They are not the perfectly ridged, delicate, ombré fan of the scallop. They are not the smooth, radial, accreted ridges of a clam shell.

No. Oysters look like street fighters, with a rock hard face that has been pummeled into a misshapen mass of cartilage and bone, awkwardly swollen and of many colors. Not all of them, or maybe none of them, a color of health.

It dares you to open it. It is the door to the witch’s house that you step back from because nothing good can be in there.

What a liar.

When I tip the half shell into my mouth and the oyster sides onto my tongue, my brain hears phantom calls of gulls. I almost look up, to squint into the sun, or to push my face into cold sea spray on a clouded day to see big gray or white big birds challenging me for that briny bite.

I taste the entire ocean, thousands of years, hundreds of thousands of years, concentrated in a chewy drop of sweet saline. If they are shucked poorly, I will bite into bits of its shells. I roll the shale to the side of my mouth and pull out the nature.

When they are shucked well, and adorned with a squeeze of lemon and a spritz of sweet-sour-peppery mignonette they are still of the wild sea. Because that is what they are.

Of the sea.

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